This week we’re delighted to introduce Kate Waddleton from the Hove & Portslade branch of the Women’s Equality Party or WEP for short. Now whilst we identify as feminists neither Louisa or I would describe ourselves as particularly political - both having grown disengaged by the mainstream UK parties.
This is just one of the many reasons we are so glad to have met and partnered with our local branch of the Women’s Equality Party. We finally feel like we’ve found a voice for everything we’ve been feeling about practical feminism in society! So let’s great straight into our interview with Kate:
What is the Women’s Equality Party?
WE are a collaborative force in British politics uniting people of all genders, ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and experiences in the shared determination to see women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men – so that all can flourish. Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself.
When did it begin & why?
The Party was co-founded in March 2015 by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig. Catherine proposed founding a Women’s Equality Party during a debate on women in politics at the Women of the World (WOW) Festival in London, and rang Sandi the next day to seek her support – which was when Sandi told her that she'd intended to propose exactly the same thing! They immediately agreed to work together.
Every day in the UK women face inequality at home, at work, in politics and in public life. That makes the UK a worse place to live for everybody and the Party was founded to address this.
Our aim is to set out the case for change, working together to finally bring an end to the injustices women still face and to unleash the enormous potential women offer, to the benefit of everybody.
What is your role and what motivated you to get involved?
I'm a founding member of WE, having joined in October 2015, after it became more and more clear to me that the privilege I had growing up in a safe environment, supported and encouraged by family and friends to do anything I wanted, was so far out of reach for many women and girls simply because of their gender. I was shocked by the statistics of domestic violence, becoming increasingly enraged at the sexism, sexualisation and objectification of all types of women in the media, and appalled by continuing gender stereotyping. I had to do something to fight for change and equality! Since then I've volunteered for WE, helping organise events and communication with my background in PR and marketing. Earlier this year I was elected as Leader of the Hove & Portslade branch where I’m now part of a small amazing team working to encourage our members and supporters to engage in activism in our local area, join the party and make a difference!
What is the WEP mission?
We have one overarching goal: gender equality. We’re working to achieve this through seven core objectives –
equal representation in politics, business and all areas of working life
equal parenting and caregiving enabling everyone to share opportunity and responsibility
equal education that creates opportunities for all children
equal media treatment
ending violence against women and girls
equal healthcare our newest objective
We want to bring about change by winning support, votes and seats and won’t stop until all other mainstream parties embrace and adopt our agenda of equality – and take action to achieve it.
How can people get involved?
Join a local branch! We have two branches locally – Hove & Portslade and the Brighton branch. We’d love people to join the party, volunteer for one of our branches and start making change happen, but we also completely understand and appreciate that can be a VERY daunting thing if you’ve never been a political activist before!
Most of our members (including me!) hadn’t even been a member of a political party before they joined WE but that’s what makes us different. We’re a really friendly bunch and want to hear from everyone, no matter how little or how much political or activist experience you might have.
The easiest way to get started is to just come and meet us! Both of our local branches have regular meetings where you can just come for a cup of tea and a chat and hear more about what we do.
Why did you want to become a Sister Society partner?
When I heard about Sister Society and why Cecily and Louisa founded it, I instantly thought WE would be a great fit as both are so passionate about collaborating, sharing stories and ideas to make real change for women. I think becoming a partner will be a fantastic way to support and elevate each other to campaign locally on feminist issues in our city.
I’d like our partnership to show everyone engaged with Sister Society – socially conscious women that are already passionate about feminism but might not identify with mainstream politics – that there is a political party to represent them and everything they care about.
Soon you’ll be able to vote for WE in local elections coming up in Brighton & Hove next year! Vote for us to affect changes in the law, economy and society that will help advance women’s lives. As Sister Society says, together we're stronger.
What does the word feminism mean to you?
Equal rights and opportunity, but also so much more! Working together, and by that I mean people of all genders, not just women, to help each other and make our lives, communities and society better.
Being proud of who you are as a woman and not apologetic for it!
Which women’s issues are you particularly passionate about?
There are so many it’s hard to focus on one! All of WE’s core objectives are close to my heart but personally I’m most passionate about challenging gender stereotypes, particularly in the media.
That now seemingly ridiculous idea of what a woman is supposed to be, supposed to look like, how she should act, how she should be treated. I think in a world where we all increasingly spend a lot of time online, consuming content and media, media outlets and establishments have a huge responsibility to set the standard for equality, and give women the opportunity to be who they are, without fear of being belittled or discriminated against for it.
Thank Kate - so inspiring! You’ll be hearing more about the WEP from us in the coming months including the opportunity to come and hear Kate speak at our December meet-up - book your free ticket now!
We want to engage with you on political activism and how we can better women’s position and strive for more equality in our local area with the upcoming local elections next year.