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Women’s Equality Party Sophie Walker's Manifesto

I have copied Sophie Walkers Manifesto here for everyone to read. If you would like to vote for Sophie to become the leader of  the newest political party here is a LINK TO THE WEBSITE
Women’s Equality Party WEBSITE

Building a world that works for women means making a manifesto that reflects and invests in our lives. It means challenging limited ideas about what we should value in society and raising the bar on what politics and policy can achieve.
I believe in the power of free women to create a world that works better for everyone and this is my manifesto for doing that together. I am an ordinary person - not a trained politician or economist. I’m not educated in policy-making or balancing budgets, although I have learned a lot while building WE. But I have common sense, a capacity to research and learn and listen, and a fierce determination to make things work better. Together with you I want to build on the brilliant work we have all done and take this party from strength to strength.
The proposals here aim to develop our policy document and General Election manifesto so that together we can rebuild social care, welfare, healthcare and the NHS and education. Where there are new ideas – this also includes housing and foreign policy - they are intended as the beginning of a dialogue with members to develop them further and approve them together.
I hope you find the following accessible. The more that ordinary women from different backgrounds and experiences do politics, the better politics can reflect all our lives.


Austerity is the benchmark of a broken economy. We can only end it by creating a different kind of economy. We don't have to work within the limited parameters of the other parties or their limited ideas about investment, tax and spending. We don't have to accept the idea that there is only ever a certain amount of money to invest and that someone must always go without as part of a sensible economic plan. Because unless and until we change the structures, the someone going without will always be a woman.
Let's reject that kind of politics and all that it stands for. There is more resource than the other parties see and we don't need to ask for permission to use it differently. Cynical dismissal of 'magic money trees' is as unacceptable as nationalisation billed as ambitious restructuring that still leaves unanswered vital funding questions about care. Let's take a new approach that sees us all for more than our worth in pounds and pence and values peace and social harmony as much as economic stability and growth. Women's equality doesn't come with a price tag. It can only happen when we design a different world step away from patriarchal values.
Fiscal responsibility for me is a world where we support women and all do better as a result. For example, we know from the work of the Women's Budget Group that investing in care yields twice the economic benefit of investing in construction.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has set aside a National Productivity Investment Fund of £31 billion, dedicated exclusively to technology, housing and transport infrastructure. But productivity won't rise until we invest in all the different ways we live and work. So let's split the investment pot pound for pound equally on social infrastructure as on physical infrastructure in order to tackle some of the most grievous inequalities in our country right now and reach the many women working for little or nothing in undervalued and crumbling structures. Let's be ambitious about the size of the pot and double it by redoubling efforts to claim unpaid taxes - some £20 billion are avoided and another £18 billion written off every year. There are too many rich men hiding their wealth to the cost of women living in poverty.
Now let's talk about what that rebalancing looks like in detail:


I am proud of the Women’s Equality Party’s work on childcare policy. I believe we now must broaden this work to include social care and healthcare as we build out our feminist reworking of the Budget. Public spending on adult social care is set to drop to less than one percent of GDP. This is not only unjust, leaving many thousands of people struggling to cope. It is also very bad planning.
To recap: we have written fully costed childcare policies. They are:
  • Shared Parental Leave. Nine months’ leave at 90 percent of pay to be shared equally between parents. Funded by a £4bln investment from the government and a levy on employers’ total salary costs of 0.076 pct.
  • State-funded childcare free to use. 40 hours a week for 48 weeks a year. Funded by moving to a single rate of pension tax relief at 25 percent (which would create £6.5 billion), unfreezing alcohol and fuel duty (£9.4 billion) and freezing corporate tax cuts (£6.6 billion.) The result: 1.7 million jobs and a policy that would pay for itself in economic growth and a lower benefits bill.
Social care is the next big challenge. There are a series of critical challenges we must meet.
  • Public spending on adult social care is set to fall to less than 1 percent of GDP. We have to plug the immediate funding gap estimated at £2.6 billion.
  • Social care for people with disabilities has been systematically undercut. We must urgently reinstate critical frontline services and review future needs.
  • We must design and fund a workforce strategy. Nuffield estimates we need 275,000 jobs by 2025 if current healthcare and demographic trends continue. In the last twelve months 34 percent of qualified care workers left their jobs. Of those left, 37 percent have no qualification. In total, a third of care workers come from the EU and their future is uncertain.
  • We must agree a longer-term investment plan. I would adopt the proposals made by Andrew Dilnot, chair of the long-term care commission, and work cross-party to introduce them. This would mean a cap of £35k on what individuals pay towards care in their lifetime; protection for savings and assets up to £100k; an urgent review of national eligibility criteria for state support; and an assurance that all those with care and support needs should be eligible immediately.
  • We must also review carers’ allowance and allow flexibility for carers who work and study.
Healthcare systems will breathe easier when we invest in social care and take the strain off the NHS. (In 2015/2016 the NHS Budget was £120 billion of which two-fifths was spent on older people. In the same year the estimated value of the unpaid care work done by women was £70 billion.)
But we must go further to provide equal healthcare for women in a revitalized NHS. Our Women’s Equality Party working group on equal healthcare is due to report later in the year.
In the meantime I propose that we must strengthen women’s working rights and the workforce needs of the NHS. Women make up 88.4 percent of registered nurses and nearly half of doctors in the UK. Therefore the following measures are needed:
  • Reject and rewrite the current junior doctors’ contract that discriminates against women. The associated Equality Impact Assessment confirmed it would ‘impact disproportionately’ on women but said ‘any adverse impact’ was a ‘proportionate’ means to an end.
  • Reintroduce bursaries for student nurses and ensure EU nurses may continue to work in the UK. We must urgently address the slump in applications to study nursing and the drop in EU nurses registering to practice in the UK. The government abolished bursaries with a promise it would free up £800m and pay for an extra 10,000 places by shifting student nurses to the standard student loan system. The money and places haven’t materialized.
To address the long-term sustainability of the NHS I propose adopting the following recommendations suggested by Lord Patel’s cross-party committee on the sustainability of the NHS. They are as follows:
  • Create a new body independent of government to identify the healthcare needs of a changing and ageing population, and write a staffing and funding plan to match.
  • Ensure NHS funding rises as fast as GDP for ten years after 2020; focus particularly on addressing salaries of low-paid staff
  • Move adult social care budgets into the Department of Health.
  • Undertake a bureaucracy and regulation review of the NHS that includes a strategy for uptake of technology and innovation, in order to promote best practice and administration.


We can't rethink social care without also rethinking our benefits system, dogged by successive governments' false narratives about scroungers and fakers. This hurts everyone, particularly women. The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable. By this standard our society is in freefall. We need a national conversation about how we value and support people to live good lives.
It is an indictment of this government that the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reported the UK government had systematically violated the rights of people with disabilities. A rise in work sanctions against them, loss of Disability Living Allowance and PIPs, loss of Motability schemes, a rise in mental health problems - this is a stain on this country. We have to question what disability means and how we define it. Right now it is our society that disables people by making spaces inaccessible, misunderstanding people, discriminating against them.
Discussions about Universal Basic Income are interesting but still have a long way to go. Some see ideas as a neoliberal approach to replace benefit systems with a single income that could for example pay the same amount to a single man as to a single mother. Others see it as essentially anti-capitalist compensation to workers whose jobs are taken by machines. But I think tdeas about UBI have to go hand in hand with a fundamental rethink of our societal structures, the value we put into work and how we are socialized. To simply impose a system of UBI without understanding men's and women's different experiences would simply widen inequalities. To me a more effective approach to welfare would be a social security system that values caring and shares the responsibilities and costs of it.
Immediate action we should take:
  • Reverse social security decisions that have had adverse effects on women: the two-child benefits cap, the bedroom tax, the rape clause, the freeze on housing benefit.
  • Reform Universal Credit to ensure women with employed partners gain themselves from earnings and change payment arrangements so that the money is not paid into a single bank account.
  • Review PIPs and redefine disability living support. While there are questions about what this benefit is for, people with disability will continue to be judged according to Victorian definitions of being ‘fit for work.’
  • Combat in-work poverty and in-work benefits by strengthening the rights of part-time workers and those on zero-hours contracts. All workers should have basic rights such as collective bargaining and the minimum wage.
  • Challenge the government’s decision to increase the state pension age for women born in the 1950s. Without corresponding changes to women’s access to work, childcare and ability to save, this is a punitive and unfair action.


Another piece of vital infrastructure and another profession dominated by women who are underpaid and undervalued. I am proud of our Equal Education policies. In order to implement them we must support teachers and invest in education as we would in care.
The National Audit Office says schools have not experienced this level of reduction in spending power since the mid-1990s. The Conservatives government has pledged £4 billion by 2022. But the Association of School and College leaders estimates school budgets would have to rise by £6 billion-£7 billion to counter rising costs. And the Department of Education has estimated a £6.7 billion repair bill for state school buildings.
We have to allocate sufficient funding to our schools and teaching professionals.
We also have to support teachers and foster an environment of creativity rather than cramming. We can do this if we:
  • Address teachers’ wellbeing by addressing staff shortages, pay cap and low morale. Teachers do not have enough PPA (preparation, planning and assessment) time; they are constantly covering for others and grappling with students’ challenging classroom behaviour without enough Teaching Assistants; and schools seeking to save money are hiring mainly NQTs (newly-qualified teachers) who are being thrown in the deep end. Lifting the pay cap would return money to the Treasury in the shape of higher tax receipts and lower welfare payments.
  • Stop bureaucracy. Simplify exams and results. Too many new systems have been forced on to teachers with no thought or time. I would scrap SATs: Primary school children are too young for so many formal exams and suffer stress and worry at a time they are supposed to be learning to love school instead of fearing failure.
When we do that we can better address inequality in the classroom, where the occupational segregation of our children begins, and also support children who learn differently. Thus we can:
  • Address the fact that girls leave school to an average starting pay gap of £3k against boys’ salaries. It’s time to really push our policies on a curriculum gender audit so teachers are promoting role models for girls too and schools are being assessed on gender equality as a stand-alone criterion. Independent careers advice is vital.
  • Lift the strain on girls to be perfect. A third of those between 16-24 have a mental health conditions. We must push to get SRE implemented so that boys and girls are learning mutual respect and tolerance and rising rates of sexual harassment and violence in schools are halted. We must also ensure schools can tackle the mental health issues unique to young women with proper counseling and support.
  • Help boys attain. They are 9 points behind at GCSE and 60,000 fewer are going to university. We should have an employment drive to hire more male primary school teachers and continue to promote the Fatherhood Institute’s FRED (Fathers Reading Every Day) initiative. WE know that weekly reading support from a male reading role model makes a difference.
  • Rebalance GCSEs to include coursework. Rote learning tests good memory, not ability. There is also early evidence to suggest that girls are doing less well under a system that focuses on cramming. Children with special educational needs also do better where they can demonstrate learning through coursework rather than timed tests.
  • Support the arts. Disdain for this part of the curriculum is down to patriarchal ideas of what kind of work has worth. Humanities students learn skills for life – creativity and communication skills are vital in all forms of work – and our cultural richness is as important as, and contributes to, our GDP. Adding arts to STEM increases the benefits of traditional science learning for all.


We are in the grip of a national conversation about a national crisis that has not once acknowledged that women are disproportionately affected and made vulnerable by homelessness. As the UK’s first feminist party I feel that we must address this.
There is a focus on street homelessness that suggests men are most hurt by the housing crisis. Of some 8,000 rough sleepers, the vast majority are men. However this is a tiny proportion of the 300,000 homeless people in the UK of whom the vast majority are women: many single women and single mums with children living in B&Bs, temporary accommodation, in shelters and on waiting lists. By better understanding which vulnerable people are affected by which homelessness, we can better address the problem for everyone.
I suggest the following urgent action as priorities:
  • Unfreeze housing benefit. This would have an immediate and major impact. Right now it no longer covers even the cheapest rents in 85 percent of the country.
  • Halt the government’s proposals to move women’s refuges into a broader definition of supported housing that will see them share the same local authority funding pot as older people and offenders. Vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners must be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit and councils must ringfence funding for refuges and housing for women fleeing violence.
  • Overhaul private renting practices so that women are not vulnerable to abuse: require landlords to register, secure a permit or licence and bar them from requiring information on income, occupation or benefits status
  • Increase the length of tenancies. Five years should be normal.
  • Free up local councils to build social housing via subsidized loans so they are not permanently put out of pocket by the cost of building homes that yield low rentals. Return right-to-buy receipts back to councils to reinvest.
  • Scrap the ‘viability’ rule that enables developers to renegotiate agreed housing development terms. An agreement to build must be an agreement to invest equally in affordable housing and social housing.
  • Tackle the soaring cost of land by releasing more land to be developed. Councils should be free to make compulsory purchases where demand is high. And we must rethink our greenbelt. It’s time for a community-led assessment that would enable us to better appreciate and protect areas of natural beauty, while freeing up industrial open space designed to prevent urban sprawl.

brexit and foreign policy

The other national conversation is, of course, Brexit.
The EU Referendum was presented as an opportunity to rethink the UK's place in the world. I believed then as I do now that it was also an opportunity to hear women's voices, from those voting Leave because they felt abandoned and unsupported, and those voting Remain because they were worried about protecting women's working rights. It was an opportunity to dare to imagine we might rebuild policies around jobs, trade and immigration that saw women and protected their rights but also expanded them.
Since then I have watched with alarm and frustration the conversation stall time and again. I do not feel we have progressed to any kind of positive vision for a post-Brexit world. Ideas put forward by WE in our 2017 General Election Manifesto provide a roadmap to a fairer future but Westminster debate is woefully lacking in ideas.
Most recently the leaking of a government assessment showing that UK growth will be lower under every possible Brexit scenario leave me deeply concerned about the impact on women who as we know are always in the frontline of any growth downturn that then hits the public purse. I am also worried by the recent report in the Journal of Social Policy and Society that concluded Brexit is one of the greatest threats to women's rights and social inclusion. This was based on the government's ongoing silence over women's rights while continuing Brexit discussions focused on trade; its expressed desire to avoid regulation; and its restrained position past and present on pushing gender equality directives where they confront entrenched business practices.
As we move through the next difficult weeks and months towards March 2019 I believe we have to build a foreign policy that incorporates our desire to build women's equality into the foundations of the UK's future and also ensure that the UK's dealings with the rest of the world make clear the importance of women's equality globally - and effect it wherever possible.
With this in mind I believe we must:
  • Have a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal that will allow women’s voices to be heard. I personally believe that the UK can only work better for women if we stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, in addition to adopting broader WE policy on jobs, trade and immigration. Should Parliament reject the final deal I believe the public should have the right to a second referendum rather than simply have to accept no deal.
As per our 2017 General Election Manifesto we must also:
  • Continue to fight to ensure women’s working rights, currently enshrined in EU law, are protected.
  • Retain the European Protection Order to ensure survivors who have been granted protection from perpetrators retain similar protection when they travel or move to other countries.
  • Map the impact of withdrawal of EU funding for UK organizations that support women and replace it so vital services are protected.
  • Ensure women with dependent visa status are able to apply for independent status within a year of arriving in the UK and stop stamping their passports with ‘no recourse to public funds.’
  • Increase our quotas of refugee women and children who ar more likely to be left behind in conflict or refugee camps, vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation.
It’s time to also write a feminist foreign policy. Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, summarises this as a focus on women’s rights, representation and resources. Using this agenda I believe we can advocate for peace, push back against toxic populism and encourage economic growth based on fair trade and labour markets. Following Sweden’s lead we could work towards a foreign policy that would make strengthening women’s equality a normal part of international relations by for example insisting that co-operation between countries includes a focus on:
  • Women’s political representation - push for implementation of gender equality strategies in all institutions and governments.
  • Women and girls’ economic empowerment – equal education, training and employment opportunities as part of trade policy.
  • Women’s participation in peace efforts – establishing networks of female mediators to ensure more successful peace processes. (Gender equality is a better indicator of a state’s peacefulness than democracy, religion or GDP.)
  • Sexual and reproductive rights – establishing SRE and education about reproductive health including access to free, safe abortions.
  • Human Rights – ending demand for the purchase of sex, supporting civil society’s efforts to empower women and girls.


We cannot work internationally to end trafficking of women and children for sex, without also working to end demand in the UK.
That is why, if elected, I would campaign hard to introduce a Sex Buyer’s Law – also known as the Nordic Model – to criminalise the purchase of sex and establish and fund support for victims of the sex industry, including exit services for sex workers.
We have to de-legitimise the prostitution of women and halt the exploitation and trafficking of women and children. About two million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade and women and girls make up 96 percent of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.  This is both cause and consequence of women’s inequality.
We must contradict flawed ideas about ‘choice’. When three-quarters of prostituted women identify poverty and the need to support their children as primary reasons for selling sex; 85 percent of prostituted women experienced physical abuse during their childhoods and half were paid for sex acts before they were 18 years old, the power imbalance and lack of choice here is very clear.
At a time when we are challenging in every workplace the culture of men’s entitlement to women’s bodies for sexual gratification and power, we must not abandon the most marginalized women to be bought and abused by men. In Sweden, Norway, Iceland, France, Canada, Northern Ireland and Ireland, Sex Buyers’ laws have cut street prostitution and sex trafficking. The UK must now follow.
Prostitution and trafficking is violence against women. It is not separate from all the other forms of violence that other women are exposed to but part of the same spectrum. We cannot end violence against women and girls without ending demand.


I am standing for Leader because I want to grow WE, and with it, the power of women across the UK. Leadership is not a job but an action, and a key part of that action is to lift up members' voices and give them the power to make change in their communities.
I am proud of the fact that we are a democratic party, with a directly-elected steering committee, directly-elected spokespeople and policy decided by conference, where all members can bring forward motions for debate. In order for new ideas and new talent to flourish we must now grow our networks and so our membership.
That means supporting Scottish members to lead Scottish policy development and campaigns to give WEP Scotland, our Scottish members and our Scotland spokesperson a bigger profile. It means supporting growth in Wales via regular Welsh member-led policy workshops and the appointment of a Wales spokesperson. It means building a strong Northern hub in England for our Northern branches, with a North of England spokesperson - and learning from all of those experiences what will help other branches and hubs to develop. I passionately believe that we grow our membership not by internal party process but in the community, with ideas that appeal to people from all backgrounds.
A major achievement of this party has been to create a manifesto that clearly tells the story of women's oppression and sets out a series of practical solutions. It is a vital tool to help us explain the reality of our lives and the breadth of our ambitions in a society that attempts to silence and belittle us.
Giving more practical support to members as we all go out and tell that story is key. So is improving communication between branches, members and central office. Our first bootcamp training was a big success and I look forward to rolling out more of these sessions around the UK with additional support, as requested, on media and public appearances. I'd also like to set up regular Leader's webinars to chat directly with members, between in-person branch visits, about current events and policy thoughts.
In building this party, I believe our strongest weapon is optimism. Building this party has been and continues to be a joy. I want us to cheer each other on and look up and out, no matter how hard the task. And that is what I promise to bring to this job every day. Because let's face it, there's nothing more worrying to the patriarchy than a hopeful feminist!
Thank you so much for trusting me to be the first Leader of WE. Please vote for me now so together we can build on our hard work and deliver the changes we all want to see.

This post first appeared on Promote Thanet, please read the originial post: here

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Women’s Equality Party Sophie Walker's Manifesto


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