UK Women’s Equal­ity Party de­buts on Trump ‘dis­as­ter’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANCH­ESTER: Bri­tain’s newly-formed Women’s Equal­ity Party is thrash­ing out top­ics such as un­equal pay and the “dis­as­ter” of Don­ald Trump beat­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton to the White House, at its first ever con­fer­ence this week­end.

The WEP’s de­but congress since its for­ma­tion in March last year is be­ing held in a red-brick for­mer ware­house close to Manch­ester United Foot­ball Club’s fa­mous Old Traf­ford ground in the north­west English city.

In a sym­bolic move, the three-day con­fer­ence opened Fri­day on the United Na­tions’ In­ter­na­tional Day for the Elim­i­na­tion of Vi­o­lence Against Women. Vi­o­lence was among the nu­mer­ous top­ics dis­cussed in a bid to fash­ion an iden­tity and a po­lit­i­cal pro­gram for the party, born out of frus­tra­tion at a per­ceived lack of con­sid­er­a­tion given to women’s rights in Bri­tain.

Of course, Bri­tain has a fe­male head of state in Queen El­iz­a­beth II and Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is its sec­ond woman prime min­is­ter af­ter her fel­low Con­ser­va­tive pre­de­ces­sor Mar­garet Thatcher. The first min­is­ters of Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land are also women. But their promi­nence masks the true pic­ture, ar­gued WEP leader So­phie Walker, a for­mer jour­nal­ist, un­der­lin­ing that women were out­num­bered in par­lia­ment’s lower House of Com­mons by two to one.

Fur­ther­more, “two women a week are killed by their part­ner or their for­mer part­ner” in Bri­tain, she added. And women are still paid less than their male coun­ter­parts, on av­er­age. “We are say­ing that women rights are hu­man rights and hu­man rights should be at the top of the po­lit­i­cal agenda,” she told AFP. “There have been many many bril­liant women’s pres­sure groups that have fought for women’s rights for decades,” she said, re­call­ing the Suf­fragette move­ment of the early 20th cen­tury, bat­tling for the right to vote.

How­ever, “the pace of progress has been glacial”, she added. “Un­for­tu­nately, the only way that you can force a po­lit­i­cal party to act is to threaten their share of the vote.”

Con­cern over Trump

Mean­while prop­erty ty­coon Trump’s elec­tion to the US pres­i­dency threat­ens to be “a dis­as­ter for women’s rights”, she added. “It was a vote that said misog­yny and racism doesn’t mat­ter.”

Dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, a 2005 tape sur­faced of Trump brag­ging about kiss­ing, grop­ing and try­ing to have sex with women, to the hor­ror of WEP mem­bers. “I don’t know if Clin­ton wasn’t elected be­cause she is a woman,” said Lu­cie de Beauchamp, a French, 24-year-old stu­dent, who came to the con­fer­ence from Glas­gow. “What both­ers me the most is that Trump was voted in de­spite his vile com­ments about women.”

Walker con­tested the Lon­don may­oral elec­tion in May and came sixth out of 12 can­di­dates, win­ning two per­cent of the vote. The party scored 3.5 per­cent in the par­al­lel Lon­don As­sem­bly elec­tions.

Though it has not yet won any seats any­where, the party has a reach of around 65,000 mem­bers and sym­pa­thiz­ers. And they are not all women. “The rea­son I’m here is equal­ity is for ev­ery­body and ev­ery­body ben­e­fits from equal­ity,” said Scott Matthew­man, 46, af­ter watch­ing Walker’s speech. “At the mo­ment, the peo­ple who suf­fer the most from in­equal­ity are women,” said the Lon­doner, who works in IT-a sec­tor, to his re­gret, which is still dom­i­nated by men. “So now it’s up to men to lis­ten.” —AFP

MANCH­ESTER: So­phie Walker (C), the leader of the Women’s Equal­ity Party, poses for a pho­to­graph with the two joint founders of the party, Catherine Mayer (R) and Sandi Toksvig (L), be­fore the open­ing day of her party’s first con­fer­ence at Vic­to­ria Ware­house on Novem­ber 25, 2016. —AFP

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