The Women's Equality Party (WEP), founded in May 2015 by author and journalist Catherine Mayer, and broadcaster and comedian Sandi Toksvig, launched their first policy document on Tuesday (20 October). The manifesto state's the party's core aims and provides a "blueprint for enabling women and girls to achieve their full potential". The party seeks to unite all different people "in the shared determination to see women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men".
WEP leader Sophie Walker speaking at the launch event, said: "This morning we take a big step towards doing politics differently, to doing politics fairly, to creating the kind of politics where women and men are heard equally and Britain does better as a result."
The policy document outlines the party's six core objectives:
- Equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life;
- Equal pay and an equal opportunity to thrive;
- Equal parenting and caregiving and shared responsibilities at home;
- An education system that creates opportunities for all children and an understanding of why this matters;
- Equal treatment of women by and in the media; and
- An end to violence against women.
The party's constitution states that they are "non-partisan", "diverse and inclusive" and "are making change happen." According to Walker, they plan to stand their first candidates "next spring".
Walker told the audience that "men outnumber women in parliament by two to one. Women's experiences of work, healthcare, crime and education are not heard and our legislation is often lacking and ineffective... our society is not at ease with itself. We are not a special interest party, we are half the population."
Of the current parties in parliament, she said: "They're more interested in claiming the right to deliver equality than actually delivering it." Though, WEP have said they are willing to work with any other party to achieve their aims.
Alongside the party's core aims, the document describes policies the party will campaign for. These include increasing transparency on the pay gap between men and women by requiring companies with over 50 employees and those at any level that have secured a government contract to publish annual reports on the genders and pay of their employees.
They plan to lower the fees involved in making a claim for workplace discrimination and to invest heavily in childcare to give stay-at-home parents who want to work more freedom to do so. Another policy is to make parental leave more equal by guaranteeing both parents six-weeks leave at 90% pay in addition to 10 shared months on statutory pay.