So far in this election women have been made as invisible as if we we were all wearing the nicab. The election has set back equality in this country.
We are demanding that during the last week of the election the Party Leaders spell out in detail their commitment to the women of this country and globally. We want to hear from them how they will implement policies against all forms of discrimination, including how the cuts will impact on the many diverse lives of women, not only Mums-net; many women over 50 will need to keep earning into their 70s but even Government Headhunters seem to be practising age discrimination; we want to know from Party Leaders about their policies for women pensioners - three quarters of pensioners living in poverty in UK are women; how will Party Leaders address the challenges faced by immigrant and ethnic minority women; we want to know what steps they will take to protect and assist the young girls and their mothers who are raped across our cities as part of gang reprisals; and other violence against women; we want to know in detail from David, Nick and Gordon how they will make sure women are included women in peace talks and treaty discussions in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Nortehrn Ireland and elsewhere in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325; how will they provide access to affordable child-care; we want to know how the impending cuts will impact on many groups of women.
Three weeks election campaigning have passed and politicians, commentators and the News media have engaged in discussions about issues,
strategy and tactics that have been almost entirely male. The TV debates have featured all male politicians moderated by Media Men. Issues such as how the impending cuts will impact on women’s lives have not been discussed. In last week’s foreign affairs debate not once did we hear anything about the 12 million women in Afghanistan or the million of Iraqi women who were promised netter freer, happier lives after the Coalition forces overthrew the existing regimes.
I have never seen so many angry British women leaders as I saw yesterday. The fury cut across party lines, ages, religion sexual orientation and ethnicity.
Yesterday morning I compered the 21st anniversary celebration of the National Alliance of Women. NAWO an umbrella organisation of hundreds of women’s organisations: single issue to specialist organisations, faith groups, health centres, arts-based organisations and others offering services and campaigning across a range of women's concerns.
Despite the birthday cake and champagne, the feeling of betrayal and anger with politicians, their advisors and the Media Men could be felt seeping through the room like poison gas.
At an Election Special Meeting in the evening of female senior professionals and business leaders the audience and my fellow Panel Speakers Dr Katherine Rake Chief Executive The Family and Parenting Institute and Dr Rosie Campbell Senior Lecturer in Politics at Birkbeck College , University of London were equally enraged at the way women in theix ountry have been sidelined from the election. The meeting was organised by Kate Grussing of FORUM. in the smart modern office HQ of global corporation Ernst and Young. From the window we had a clear view of the Thames to the target of quivering rage, Parliament.
I read that some 400 women alos unleashed a similar degree of fury yesterday evening at a meeting across the Thames organised by the Fawcett Society at the LSE.
The message is very clear and ominous. If you are a woman, forget a position in the inner circles of any of the main political parties in Britain. Even if you are a senior female politician you will be pushed aside in favour of US style political wives.
We see no reason why a political class which excludes women from the election debates should assume that we believe they will give any more priority to women once the election is over.
All the main political parties have made it very clear they regard women as second class citizens. This election has been a disgrace. It demonstrates clearly why the United Kingdom rates a poor 73rd in the world league table of women in Parliament well below New Zealand, Australia, Rwanda, Cambodia, the Nordic and most other EU Member States . UK is likely to slip even further down the league on 6th May.
We hope this will never happen again.
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