By Kelly Grehan, 50:50 Director and Labour Councillor
This week we have had to face the fact, once again that the next President of the United States will not be a woman. I cannot see a likelihood of Donald Trump – misogynist and sexual assaulter of women – losing the US election and that can only mean that a sizable number of voters in America do not find his behaviour towards women problematic – never mind reprehensible.
Then there is the depressing rhetoric from some who explain they failed to support Warren because she is ‘school-marm-ish’ – what that means and why it would be a negative trait in a president I’ve no idea.
Warren, herself describes the “trap” of gender for female candidates “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’” But “If you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’”
Then there is the situation in my own Party. I’ve nothing against Keir Starmer being Labour Party leader, but I find it depressing that we will have two leaders called ‘Keir’ before we will have a female leader.
My chosen candidate Lisa Nandy summed things up this week when she responded to being asked if she thought the women had a tougher time in the leadership contest, Lisa Nandy responded that she had not “seen an article about Keir’s shoes yet.’’
“Choose to fight only righteous fights” – Elizabeth Warren, US Democratic Senator
People keep telling me things are improving. But are they really? The number of female heads of government is lower today than five years ago with only 10 women in such positions in 193 countries.
This week, a UN Report, looking at 75 countries, found that not one had achieved gender equality: 91% of men and 86% of women hold at least one bias against women in relation to politics, economics, education, violence or reproductive rights.
Globally, close to 50% of men said they had more right to a job than women. Almost a third thought it was acceptable for men to hit their partners. About half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders.
How do we start to combat this? We have had countless terrible male leaders which surely proves tosterone is not a bonus for a leader. We have had decades of feminism now, decades of campaigning for equality, of women proving (to borrow a phrase) that ‘anything a man can do, we can do bleeding’.
But still here we are, fighting for a world where our daughters can walk home in their school uniform without men harassing them, where we can do our jobs without comment on our clothing and where when we say we have been sexually assaulted no one passes judgement on why we were alone/drunk/flirting/wearing a low cut top/dancing/etc.
Sometimes it is so exhausting fighting these battles over and over again. We think we are making progress and then we find ourselves in a world where Donald Trump is likely to serve a second term as President.
But what choice do we have but to fight on? If we accept the world as it is we will never change it.
So for now, all I can do is heed Elizabeth Warren’s advice:
‘’Choose to fight only righteous fights, because then when things get tough — and they will— you will know that there is only one option ahead of you: Nevertheless, you must persist.’’
50:50 Parliament encourages and inspires women to stand with our #AskHerToStand and #SignUpToStand campaigns. We work with all the political parties to empower women into politics. Our #NewGirlsNetwork will support women to elected office so that women get better representation at the next election.