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Here's why the Women's Equality Party campaigned to let other parties 'steal' their policies


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In mid-May the Women’s Equality Party hand delivered their 2017 general election manifesto to each of their main political rivals with a label reading “steal me”.

The campaign, titled ‘Nickable Policies’, aimed to get mainstream political parties to embrace the WEP's policies on gender equality, including a minimum of three months paid parental leave for both parents and free universal childcare for 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year until school age (the full manifesto is available here).


Whilst the policies included in the WEP manifesto would, if integrated, represent a great improvement in gender equality across the UK, even the simple delivery of the manifesto was met with differing responses.

The Green Party, The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives all accepted copies of the manifesto. However, when the WEP attempted to deliver the manifesto to the Labour Party it was initially refused, and the copies had to be left with reception, although it does appear that some policies have since been ‘nicked’.

When each of the parties did, eventually, read the manifesto, the WEP reported a further underwhelming response, stating that although political parties are going further in representing equality than before, they had largely failed “to understand the scale of the opportunity” and ultimately “failed to prioritise women” in their manifestos. 

Sophie Walker, party leader of the WEP, further demonstrated this disappointment in a statement adding that, “WE couldn’t have made it any easier for them - the Women’s Equality Party hand-delivered our manifestos to all of the other major parties with an open offer to steal our bold (and costed) plans for free childcare and truly shared parental leave”.

Indeed, in reviews of the campaign on the WEP website, the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative manifestos are all condemned as essentially letting down women. Labour, although promising to extend child-care and double the current levels of paternity leave, were criticised for not going far enough to allow both parents to return to work and only providing vague plans of general "improvement".

Similarly the Conservative Party simply promised to "take steps" to improve paternity leave and gender parity, with "not one word" on how this will actually be achieved in practise.

However, the most intense criticism was reserved for the Liberal Democrats. Although they too were deemed to have generally not gone far enough to support gender equality, it was their complete lack of provision for domestic abuse victims, despite two women a week being killed as a result, which gained the most attention.

Ultimately, given the lacklustre reaction of the main political parties to the WEP manifesto, it seems gender equality may still be a way away.

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