Election: the state of play

The waves of election-mania are rolling in, political parties are jostling for first place and nobody agrees on the statistics.

Facing accusations of being male, pale and stale, parties are using increasingly inventive ways to attempt to engage a public apparently plagued by political fatigue. ‘Barbie’ bus or not, only 55 per cent of women (and 65 per cent of men) claim that they will vote come May. We at Fawcett are analysing party policies with our gender-equality glasses, to see how each party’s claims could affect women and create equality for all.

Turns out that women and men agree on several key election issues, with everyone joining hands on the importance of the NHS, cost of living and immigration. Women are rallying around the issue of education and the cost of caring for family while men are more agitated about the economy and pensions.

Fawcett is in the process of analysing the key areas that worry and impact women: we’ve developed a spectacular spreadsheet. Once we know what the manifestos hold, we will help you compare the lines of the five major English parties. With detail on the gender impact of core policies, you can cast your vote knowing which parties champion your feminist causes. You can get the facts from us but form your opinion yourselves.

The pledges made so far are providing ample indications of what we can expect. Employment is a hotly contested area, with the Tories wanting to cut taxes and red tape, while Labour is looking at low-wage work and pro-equality measures. The Greens and Lib Dems are also keen to clamp down on discrimination and exploitative employment, and in the UKIP quarter they would allow businesses to discriminate in favour of young British workers. As women occupy the majority of low paid and part-time jobs, the promises on employment alone should persuade women to put their cross in the ballot box in May.

Despite their less-than-popular pink bus, Labour was rated as the party that best understands the issues faced by families (Woman’s Hour poll, 2015). They are certainly making lots of noise on childcare issues, such as paternity leave. The Lib Dems are just outbidding Labour’s doubling of paid leave for fathers by pledging to triple it, with the other three parties remaining quiet for now.

There is much talk of extending free childcare to a wider bracket in the blue, red and yellow camps but these are early campaign days. The cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has increased by an ‘inflation busting’ 33 per cent over this parliament, so this issue deserves to be a key feminist battleground.

From tampon tax to housing, our manifesto analysis will try to address your concerns so that the number of women who spurn the vote nosedives from 9.1 million in the last election to virtually none in this one.

Though women are a long way off parity, change seems to be happening. They are more visible on the campaign trail so far and three of the seven party leaders at the British TV debate were women. Whatever your gender, we encourage you to vote for what you want to change.

Last date to register to vote is 20 April

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