Women’s political participation is massively hindered due to societal inequalities, however, there are organisations out there that are fighting to change this. Women’s political participation is vital in ensuring better outcomes for women and girls, but also for the betterment of society as a whole. As of 2023, there are 223 female MPs in the House of Commons, meaning women and their diverse needs are still disproportionately underrepresented within UK politics.
The Fawcett Society
The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights at work, at home, and in public life. Their visions are for a society in which women and girls in all their diversity are equal and truly free to access their true potential. The Fawcett Society has been advancing women’s equality since 1866 when Millicent Fawcett, just aged 19, collected signatures on a petition for women’s votes. Millicent Fawcett dedicated her life’s work to leading the constitutional suffrage campaign, which secured equal voting rights 62 years later. The Fawcett Society embodies her same fight and enshrines her legacy of fighting sexism and gender inequality. Their main campaigns include the fight for equal pay, securing equal power challenging attitudes and changing minds. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fawcett Society also defended women’s rights to make sure no women were left behind, with their needs ignored.
In 2023 the Fawcett Society launched their Equal Play campaign, which seeks to support parents, caregivers and influential adults to challenge gender stereotypes with their kids. Stereotypes contribute towards the mental health crisis among children and young people, and are at the root of girls’ problems with body image and eating disorders, higher male suicide rates and violence against women and girls, as well as limiting career choices, contributing to the gender pay gap. Equal Play will provide parents and caregivers with the resources and tips that can be incorporated into everyday life. Their most recent campaign is preparing for the 2024 general election. For Equal Pay Day 2022 Fawcett identified the seats that will be key to deciding the next general election, and with women making up more than half the electorate, and more likely to be undecided than men, their votes will be critical. For women to be winners in the 2024 election, parties must adopt childcare reform, workplaces that work for women and increased female representation. The Fawcett Society’s campaigns are all backed by research and data taken from the UK’s society. To fund their research, the Fawcett Society operates through membership donations and joining fees. Becoming a member gives you regular updates, and invitations to their annual conferences, and gives you an influence on their upcoming policy agenda. Equally, the Fawcett Society enable you to gift a membership, in the name of feminism. Your giftee will receive lots of great benefits, from their annual ‘StopGap’ magazine, monthly, exclusive newsletters, discounts and priority booking for Fawcett events.
Inspired by the work of the suffragettes and suffragists, Helen Pankhurst established Centenary Action in 2018 to mark the centenary of some women first getting the right to vote. The Centenary Action Group is a unique and diverse coalition of over 50 women’s organisations, including 58 MPs. Centenary Action is uniquely placed to bring together the women’s rights sector across political divides and create a common goal with a cross-party influence. Centenary Action acknowledges that the experiences of women are different, and how the experiences and understandings of the patriarchy and misogyny intersect with other aspects of identity and discrimination such as racism, ableism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, and ageism. It is vital to amplify these experiences to fully address and combat the patriarchy to remove the barrier to women’s political participation.
The aim of Centenary Action is to take action to ensure equal representation by 2028, which marks the centenary of when all women in the UK won the right to vote. In February 2018, over 9 million people called for government action to support why they were #StillMarching for gender equality. Since then, Centenary Action has grown massively, with its #March4Women campaign calling for global gender equality and an end to harassment and violence at work. Their collective impact has created a permanent fund for MPs who wish to take parental leave, developed a cross-party network for D/deaf and Disabled women active in politics, and improved support for women MPs and staff who experience sexual harassment. One of their current campaigns is ‘Enact 106’ which stands to call upon the UK government to enact section 106 of the Equality Act 2010, which requires all parties to publish diversity data on candidates standing for elections to the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament and the Senedd. The enactment of section 106 could change the look of women’s political representation to reflect the distinct and diverse needs of women in the UK today. If Centenary Action’s vision is something that aligns with you, you can become a member here.
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