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Why do we need a Women's Equality Party?

By: Andy Reeve, Co-Founder, Impact Hub Birmingham
Published: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 16:01 GMT Jump to Comments

With widespread apathy currently plaguing our political system, can the arrival of the Women's Equality Party make a significant, and indeed lasting, impact?

We live in exciting times. For me, this excitement is brought about through a sense of change. This change is being driven by a discourse between rulers and those being ruled. For centuries, these changes would result in war and massive bloodshed. The exciting thing about the present is that change can be achieved through peaceful means.

The launch of the Women's Equality Party signals the start of a necessary and significant shift in our politics. Since the beginning of our democracy we have been forced to choose between polarising parties: Parliamentarians or Royalists, Whigs or Tories, Labour or Conservatives, etc.

In a broad sense these parties have separated themselves based on their differing ideologies regarding who is responsible for distributing economical resources. Big state and high tax or small state and low tax?

We are now in a position where the complex and overarching problems we face are so ingrained that it is difficult to know where to start. Global warming, financial meltdown, growing inequality and a global refugee crisis are all pressing. To complicate matters further, this is set against a backdrop of declining election turnout and growing dissatisfaction with political parties.

The networked world requires a new way of working to resolve these issues; it requires a new set of skills and a completely different mindset. The overly competitive, aggressive and short-termist form of business and politics, which has created these problems, is certainly not going to solve them.

More female leaders, who are able to facilitate and build these networks for a wider systemic benefit, are essential. A world with leaders who possess more empathy, openness and humility can only have a positive impact. In my experience, it is the strong and inspiring women of the world who exhibit these characteristics.

It might feel extreme to blame all of the world's problems on a patriarchal system, but it is difficult to separate the two. The fact that we haven't experimented with an alternative speaks volumes for the way in which those in power seek to protect it, as well as those who contribute to their success. Big political parties funded and lobbied by big corporations are not seeking to disrupt this status quo.

The world of business is, however, starting to wake up to qualities that women can bring to the workforce. This is, in part, driven by new opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators. Studies keep corroborating the idea that greater diversity leads to greater performance: female leaders often outperform men, and female-led startup teams also regularly perform better than their male-only counterparts.

Women still, however, represent only 5% of global CEOs, and small studies have shown that men feel threatened by female leaders. In order for this systemic bias to shift we need to build a movement of people who recognise the skills that women can offer and, in turn, the benefits they can have on the wider economy.

Underlying all of this is a political system which suffers from a massive lack of diversity across the board - including female MPs. Such diversity and new ways of thinking, that is necessary to cause a significant shift in parliament's dynamic, will need to come from several different sources.

If existing parties merely fill candidate lists with women, the diversity of our collective mindset is not going to expand. We require more politicians who value equality and fairness above the outdated parliamentary model that is left versus right.

This is what will engage more people with politics. Moving away from old political narratives will be essential to the success of the Women's Equality Party. Disenfranchised voters want to feel represented and genuinely listened to. This is one of the core values of the Women's Equality Party.

The mass media, which drives modern day politics, obviously won't like this. They will look to drag the party into a debate that is solely based around gender, and there will be portrayals of bra-burning lesbians and man-haters. Any of the party's success will potentially encourage criticism rather than praise, but it will bring more people into the movement.

Avoiding this media trap, and clearly portraying the message of equality being beneficial for everyone, could start a political movement. It could show established political parties that there is a need to adapt, or they could face being forced into insignificance by a new wave of non-partisan and purpose driven parties.

This is why we need a Women's Equality Party, and other smaller parties such as the Green Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and even UKIP. They encourage participation and challenge the lack of diversity in society. They also show us that there is a new way of organising ourselves that extends beyond the traditional binary opposites of left and right.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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