Questions for the Women’s Equality party | Letters

Letters: The WEP must campaign for a wider range of policies representing women from varying socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds

When I heard about the Women’s Equality party from the irrepressibly ebullient Sandi Toksvig I was intrigued. It emphatically wants to address the gender pay gap which would solve many of the world’s economic and social ills.

Although affordable childcare (free for the first nine months) will enable women to work, many are compelled to take part-time jobs or short-term contracts with barely any rights and poor pay. How will the party address this?

It talks of parental leave of six weeks – but some mothers take a career break, opting to stay at home with their baby, and then find it daunting to get back into work. How will WEP support these women? Even if fathers take their two weeks’ paternity leave, this does not constitute equal parenting.

What about mothers who suffer maternal mental illness? Suicide is the primary indirect cause of maternal death in the UK. What is its mental health policy stance?

Encouraging girls to go into science is positive, but encouraging girls from poor and ethnically diverse backgrounds to go into the arts, film, TV and broadcasting is equally important. The dearth of representation means this realm is increasingly becoming the preserve of those with affluent parents. If more ethnically diverse women were represented, it would contribute to a richer cultural landscape.

The WEP must campaign for a wider range of policies representing women from varying socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Otherwise it could end up being a failed white middle-class feminist experiment.
Sanchita Islam

• Sitting on the train travelling from Wiltshire to London, I read that the actress Emma Thompson is backing the Women’s Equality party and that this is largely because she believes WEP is “putting issues of caring – for children and for the elderly – at the top of its agenda” (Why I’m voting Women’s Equality, Letters, 3 May).

I am confused. I have seen no evidence of WEP policy proposals to treat caregivers equally, or to properly support families with care responsibilities, but I hope I am wrong. I often attend meetings about caregiving, and also volunteer for a family counselling charity. Adults engaged in care work, women and men, contribute hugely in ways that can’t always be easily counted. This matters for children, teenagers and the elderly, as well as people experiencing poor mental or physical health. The Office for National Statistics values this work at £343bn. But there’s an urgent need for policies that address the current hefty penalty against time spent caring for family members. Encouraging a move away from family care towards care in the paid economy, so it counts in GDP, isn’t quite the same as supporting unpaid loving care, caring and caregiving.

Care work is equal work and it’s time it wasn’t treated like a second class activity by policymakers in all parties. If WEP has new ideas I would be interested to hear about them.
Marie Peacock
Salisbury, Wiltshire

• I too would be shocked if it were true that 85% of young women in London are sexually harassed every day. The actual YouGov figure was based on a sample of 96 young people (18-24), both male and female, only a small proportion of whom were Londoners: 52% said they had suffered unwanted attention of a sexual nature in the last 12 months, and another 33% some time earlier. Nothing to be proud of, but not quite the outrageous level of harassment suggested by your correspondent.
Phil Ambrose
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

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