‘On 22 May we will elect the people who make the real coal face decisions about services which protect women from violence…’
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The End Violence Against Women Coalition today (7 May) launched a local elections campaign which will see its members and supporters all over England petitioning those standing for election to local councils on 22 May to take the #WomensSafetyPledge.
The national group of more than 60 women’s organisations includes many domestic violence refuges, Rape Crisis helplines and BME women’s organisations who have been hit hard by the ‘austerity cuts’ (1). Their wide network of supporters are targeting election candidates and keeping a tally of those who take the pledge in order that local services and activists can go back to those elected after 22 May and discuss how their commitment will be implemented.
End Violence Against Women Coalition supporters are also showing candidates the results of a 2013 YouGov poll which revealed that a large majority of people in the UK expect their local council to fund high quality support services for women facing abuse (2).
The #WomensSafetyPledge commits candidates if elected to do all in their power to ensure:
- Services are protected for women who need them – whether or not they report abuse to the police
- Schools are safe 4 girls – good sex & relationships education and teacher training
- Safety in public spaces as well as in the home – tackling sexual harassment and any unsafe ‘no go areas’ for women and girls
- Strategy to end and prevent abuse before it happens – is the best way to bring all these measures together.
End Violence Against Women Coalition members and supporters are sending letters, emails and tweets to candidates and to their local political parties. Some are organising #TwitterHustings and others approaching their local press and radio.
End Violence Against Women Coalition Campaigns Manager Sarah Green said:
“Our 20,000 local councillors make many of the day to day coal face decisions that absolutely affect women’s safety and ability to live a life free from violence – they fund specialist services which help women in crisis, they influence the way schools teach young people about respect and equality, and they determine community safety priorities.
“Women’s support services – refuges, helplines, BME women’s support groups – are an unsung ‘4th emergency service’ in our communities. Election time is a crucial time for ensuring they are protected.
“There is endless talk at national level about the elusive ‘women’s vote’ and what the parties need to do to secure women’s votes in a closely fought 2015 general election. Our members and supporters are telling local election candidates that they will be held accountable for decisions they take on women’s safety. And they are doing it through every means possible – the old fashioned letter, through email and Facebook, and even running Twitter hustings!”
End Violence Against Women Coalition election guide, template letters and more are available to read and download here.
- Professor Sylvia Walby’s 2012 research on cuts to women’s specialist services is here.
- EVAW commissioned this poll by YouGov in advance of the 2013 county council elections.