I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Brexit is the biggest distraction of our time.
It is a distraction from our species most pressing issue: Climate change. It is a distraction from young people being killed on our streets, on an almost daily basis. AND it is a distraction from the centenary of female suffrage and the attainment of equality.
Basically, if you hadn’t noticed Brexit is a shitstorm for women’s rights.
This month marks 100 years since (some) women actually voted in the UK for the first time. Thanks to the Suffragettes! And yet, 90% of the Brexit debate in Parliament has been dominated by men. And out of the 650 MPs, less than a third are women. Appalling. Would we be in this mess in the first place if there had been more women in Parliament? Women’s rights and inclusive security champion, Dr Alaa Murabit in Scarlet Curtis’s curated book of essays ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies’ defends the argument that if there were more women in places of authority and in education ‘the world would be a better place’, she then defends her argument with ‘I know that if we had more women in the room we could solve a lot more problems’. Dr Alaa’s examples, of course, are (non)exhaustive:
Climate Change: The most cost effective and practical ways to combat it are the education of girls, and women’s reproductive rights.
Peace Processes: 90% fail within five years but with the inclusion of women they are thirty-five times more likely to last fifteen years.
Economic Growth: If 10% of the girls in a country are educated they increase GDP by 2-3%. Women then reinvest 90% of their income into their community (as opposed to men who reinvest 35-40%), spurring local economic growth and social transformation. And when girls receive an education they are less likely to marry young, will have fewer kids and will vaccinate those kids.
Dr Alaa’s analysis can be applied to this male’agendered Brexit:
It was Mr Farage who played on people’s anger at the status quo, it was Mr Cameron who offered the Referendum in the first place as a Tory party tactic to resolve divisions (didn’t work lol). It was Mr David Davis who undermined his Prime Minister, it was Mr Raab who followed. It was Mr Johnson and Mr Reese Mogg, who would rather fight for power than for the good of their country. And let’s not forget Mr Banks behind the Leave.EU scandal and generally breaking electoral law and denying it.
And here, in Britain, in those last 100 years, and out of the 24 PMs since, only 2 have been women and rather ironically, or surprisingly neither have openly advanced women and minority rights. Margaret Thatcher had elocution lessons to deepen her voice, did not see gender and (allegedly) elected her cabinet on merit – 90% of which were male. Similarly, the Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal does nothing to protect rights at risk. We cannot justify this debate with Theresa May’s alleged “support” for maintaining women’s rights. She is not fighting for feminism; the current Brexit deal is not equal. It is not fair. It offers a quick fix for business, with total disregard for the lives of British people, U.K. citizens abroad AND E.U. citizens in the U.K.
Imagine if ‘once predicted to become Britain’s first Prime Minister’, Dame Shirley Williams, had actually become our first female Prime Minister!? Intelligence, leadership, tenacity, moral judgement, Shirley Williams has it all. Williams flew the flag for women’s rights throughout her political career. Williams would’ve set a feminist precedent.
Or what if Dawn Butler was Prime Minister right now!? Also, a vocal, intersectional feminist, championing not only women’s rights, but minority rights with a vision for change.
Can we dream? Of course we can! And soon, we will have a Dawn Butler PM. But for now, we are stuck with a stalemate deal and a Theresa Maybot. Admittedly it could be a lot worst, imagine if we had a ‘no deal Mogg’ or a ‘pompous, egoistic Johnson’ – no thank you.
Yes, I campaign for women’s rights at risk in Brexit Britain. But many women (and men) ask me what exactly has the EU done to a) advance women’s rights? and b) advance equality between men and women?’ Great questions! Here’s how (namely):