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Saturday, 7 June 2014

South West Women's Manifesto for Political Change

Report Back of Fair Play South West Meeting 6.6.14 Manifesto for Political Change

What an incredible meeting!

Rarely do I attend meetings where the time flies by, the topics and speakers are inspiring and informative, communicating directly to me about the most pertinent political issues that affect and matter to me; this event bucked the trend!

Chaired by Jackie Longworth a feminist activist and retired engineer, there were four main speakers: Sarah Payne, Professor in Health Policy and Gender from Bristol University, Finn Mackay, feminist researcher at Bristol University’s Centre for Gender and Violence Research, Harriet Bradley, Professor of Women’s Employment at the University of the West of England and Joanne Kaye, Regional Secretary of UNISON South West. These four powerful women oozed passionate determination and shared their in depth knowledge and experience inspiring us to contribute to and then ratify the South West Women’s Manifesto for political change.

The audience of feminist public servants, trade union members, voluntary sector workers and political activists were witnessing with great sadness and anger the backward slide of many equality initiatives across all areas of our lives.  However there was a great deal of energy, power and positivity for change in the room! For me the highlight of the meeting was remembering the awesomeness and strength of women and why making alliances with other women is crucial. Seeking and nurturing other women has to be the starting point.  Change comes about by finding women who are co- operative, empathic, supportive and who are ready to share that solidarity to encourage each other to move forward. The very act of coming together makes great things happen and the meeting and Manifesto were testimony to that. Anita Copley from the National Assembly for Wales was also hugely inspiring reporting the appetite for equality in the Welsh Assembly. Their experience of organising a mentoring network amongst women across all sectors of public life to motivate and nurture other women resonated very strongly for me.

There was a heartfelt commitment to share the Manifesto in our work places, social settings and community groups and to target our future political representatives in Parliament and local government. Laws such as the Gender Equality Duty exist to aid equal treatment for women but our political representatives must make Gender Equality a priority and argue vociferously to keep and improve the mechanisms that exist. We need political change to bring about cultural change so that Gender Equality is no longer seen as a luxury but the right of all women and men. 

Read the Manifesto at