Sophie Walker is the leader of the newly formed Women's Equality Party. She might have kind eyes and an endearing smile, but this is the face of powerful political change. In The Guardian last week, Walker wrote with conviction. 'Equality is such an important thing. But it has come to mean so little. It’s been overused by political parties that each claim it for their own and then store it carelessly away without looking at it properly.'
'I want to reclaim it. I want to take equality back from the people who don’t cherish it or share it. I want equality for myself and my children and my friends and my mother and my mother’s friends and my dad and his friends too. I want equality for everyone and in order to achieve it, I think we’re going to have to do politics differently.'
The party, founded by equally sharp - and often hilarious - minds of author and journalist, Catherine Mayer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, the WE Party believe - quite rightly - that when women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, they say, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself.
This is the Women's Equality Party mission statement:
#WE are pushing for equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life. #WE expect equal pay for equal work and will look for ways to tackle the existing imbalances that leave many women who are unwaged caregivers or in low paid jobs especially vulnerable. #WE are pressing for equal parenting and caregiving enabling everyone to share opportunity and responsibility in the workplace and at home. #WE urge an education system that creates opportunities for all children and an understanding of why this matters. #WE aim to address the ways in which the portrayal of women in the media impedes progress towards equality. #WE seek an end to violence against women.
Walker will guide this nascent party ahead of a full leadership election by members next year. She might be the interim, but she's sure as hell got fire in her belly. 'No, we’re not another pressure group. We’re going to contest elections and stand candidates. We’re going to bring change about by being an electoral force; as other breakthrough parties have shown in recent years, a surefire way to take your agenda mainstream is by looking like a threat to the established parties.'
Sophie Walker, Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer we salute your courage, conviction and single-mindedness. Women's equality requires urgent attention: here's to change.