2022 Green Party Women Committee candidates written answers to questions

Thank you for taking the time to read GPW committee election candidates' detailed answers to some of the questions we didn’t have time for at our recent hustings. Not all questions have been answered by every candidate and one question is directed only to the Co-chair candidates.

Questions:

Q1: What will you do (including your first steps) to resolve the conflict GPW has had around the sex /gender debate over the last couple of years so that we can lift up women’s environmental activism again? [Co-chair candidates only]

Q2: Male violence against women is not as high on all agendas, as it should be, and too many males just can't or won't take responsibility. "Not all males" is the usual deflection. How will GPW address this issue with Green Party males? (For context, 2-3 women a week are murdered by their partners and rape cases are increasing in the UK, although convictions are down) [Support helplines are listed at the end of this document]

Q3: What events, meetings etc would you organise for Green Party Women?

Q4: Women are crying out for a left-leaning political home. Why is the Green Party failing to provide this leadership and how could you help to reverse this lack?

Q5: Is changing gender the same as changing sex and are there implications for policy if they are not the same thing? Including, how can GPW act effectively to advance the interests of women as a sex class if male non-binary people are included in the group?

Ani Stafford-Townsend (Candidate for Co-chair)

Q1 The aim of GPW is "to help women do green politics better" and I believe that is the focus that all involved would like to get back to. So the first and most important step is to do just that. If elected co-chair of a committee also dedicated to our aims, GPW will return its focus to getting more women and non binary people engaged in politics and to getting them elected.

I have set out in another answer the ways in which I would put engagement and support of women and non binary people at the heart of GPW activity.

Q2 Whilst it is not the responsibility of women to make men change, GPW is well placed to advocate for increased education for GP Equalities & Diversities training with a particular focus on abuse and harassment. This should be provided for local party organisers and officers, as well as those who are involved with the Disputes Committee. This will help members to reflect on their own behaviours, challenge problematic behaviours in others and tackle it when it arises.

Q3 With a focus on getting more people involved & engaged with politics, these are some of the meetings and groups I would organise:

  • policy working group meetings where GPW can work up policy motions to be presented at conference

  • a group for those who are standing for election, or thinking of standing for election, to be able to come together with others who have previously stood, for support & mentoring. With an option for 1-2-1 mentoring or small groups mentoring to be grown out of Working support sub groups that help support each other in our activism

  • skill swapping: Need help getting a poster together for an event or campaign? Here's someone who knows how to help

  • want to get some thing turned into a community asset? These women know how & will support you through it

  • need to work out how to use social media? This is how

I strongly feel the role of a Green chair is to facilitate the work of the group not to rule it, or control it. The committee is the steering group of the wider group, not authoritarian controllers of every action. So if GPW members are interested in gardening and yoga, great.. As an artist, I'm acutely aware of the importance of creativity in activism and for our well being.

Q4 I am a councillor in the largest Green councillor group in the country; our councillor group has a majority of women and non binary people and is led by women. All of these women are proudly of the left. Our party is led nationally by women who are proudly of the left. The GPEW is proudly of the left. Although some women disagree with the inclusive nature of GPEW policy as voted for repeatedly by GPEW left wing membership, it does not change the fact that GPEW is loudly and clearly a party of the left

Q5 Feminists advocate for people to not be defined by their bodies.

Emma Bateman (Candidate for Co-chair)

Q1 GPW has become a battleground of identity politics, which is extremely disheartening and hampers the good work we could do.

If elected, the first step I would take is to have an honest conversation with the committee about the fact that GPW cannot be used as a space to promote only one view and to give the false impression that there is one united perspective on identity politics. That is not to say that we ignore questions around gender identity, but we need to have a commitment to being tolerant of dissenting views, and to model how that is done by acknowledging differences of opinion but agreeing to focus on the myriad of things that we agree on as Greens.

It has become very clear that the GPW constitution needs amending, and at the Oct 2021 Annual general meeting it was agreed that an emergency general meeting would be held as soon as possible in order to make those changes. This was a commitment made to members, so I would want to begin organising how to consult and communicate with members to ensure as wide participation as possible, and to make sure that a broad range of voices are heard.

A final 'first thing': during her leadership campaign, Carla Denyer spoke about the need to 'educate' members about LGBTIQA issues. Carla has not approached GPW to discuss what this might look like, so if I were elected Co-chair I would endeavour to find out what progress has been made, and to ensure that this education program is a two way street.

Q2 I understand why men react defensively with 'Not all men', because it is uncomfortable to hear that males are violent and frightening to women – very few men want to identify with that, and who can blame them. Unfortunately, when women raise the issue of male violence, all too frequently the response is 'women are violent too', sometimes accompanied by victim blaming.

Male violence against women is a huge problem, as is male violence against males, so considering that perhaps the majority of males in the party profess to be progressive, I would really like to see a men's group formed in the Green Party to address male violence (and the other myriad of issues that affect men.)

Organisations such as 'Men At Work', which specialise in talking to men about male violence, could be asked to provide training sessions or materials for men to learn about male violence in a setting that takes the responsibility to do this work away from women. If we truly are the progressive party these kinds of opportunities should be embraced by males.

Q3 I think it is important to have a good mix of events ranging from online book clubs, singing clubs, gardening clubs, a craft/sewing club as well as skill shares and talks on the campaigns that members are involved in. There are so many talented women in the party that it should be relatively simple to find people willing to speak and share their knowledge. It would be great to tackle some of the barriers that prevent women from being as fully involved in the party as they wish to be. For example, friendly sessions, perhaps in conjunction with Green Seniors, which allow women to practice and become familiar with accessing conference Zoom meetings, online voting, chairing meetings and creating social media content. Areas that seem too often to be dominated by young men in particular.

Q4 The former and current Green Party leadership labelled people who believe that sex is real and immutable as transphobic and bigoted. Having gone so far down the route of gender ideology it is difficult for the leadership to do a reverse ferret and change tack now. They will not be forgiven for doing so by their supporters. I have been clear that I am proud to stand up for women's rights, I do not believe that males can ever be females, and single sex spaces are necessary for the safety and dignity of women.

I do not profess to have the solutions to this clash of rights and I believe that Green Party Women should not have to carry the weight of this conflict alone, because we will achieve more by recognising that we need to co-operate and cater for all women. However, as an individual member of the party I will continue to work on policy that strengthen the sex based rights of women and girls - I have on 3 occasions proposed a a motion to conference on ensuring sex and gender are not conflated. I will continue to challenge the erosion of our language by asking whether the Green Party policy 'trans women are women' equates to 'trans women are female', and by opposing the adoption of the draconian definition of queerphobia into the party's ethical framework.

I believe that standing up as a vocal and visible gender critical party member will encourage other members to feel that they can be confident in voicing their opinions and engaging in debate without being subjected to insults, ad hominem attacks or fear of reprisals.

Q5 Sex and gender are not the same thing. Humans are sexually dimorphic (ie either male or female), sex is observed (not assigned) at birth and is immutable; males cannot become female. The conflation and deliberate obfuscation of terms for sex and gender has lead to confusion with people tying themselves in knots trying to express ideas about biological sex using language that does not offend anyone.

Green Party policy prioritises gender identity over sex, and in doing so renders biological sex meaningless as an objective category, so the shift from objective sex to subjective gender identity has enormous implications for policy in relation to women.

The purpose of GPW used to be to represent women (females) in the Green Party, but membership has been expanded to include anyone who is ‘gender variant’. This term is so vague as to be meaningless, because anyone can claim to be gender variant. In effect it means that anyone of either sex or claiming a non binary identity can stand for the committee and vote in GPW elections. Hence it is possible for Green Party Women to be represented by a committee comprised of females who do not think they are women and males who think they are women.

If elected, one of the suggestions for constitutional change I would propose is to restrict voting rights in GPW to women. In current policy, the category 'woman' is based on subjective gender identity, so would include anyone who identifies as a woman but exclude anyone who does not identify as a woman. Non binary and gender variant members are adequately represented by the LGBTIQA+ Greens so they do not need additional representation in GPW.

Emma Carter (Candidate for Co-chair)

Thank you to all the members of GPW who have posed questions at the hustings and separately for this. I unfortunately due to work commitments this week haven’t been able to answer these additional questions.

I do very much look forward to discussing these topics and working together with the new committee if elected, and apologise for not being able to answer these additional questions on this occasion.

Tina Rothery (Candidate for Co-chair)

Q1 The solutions are best found by involving more voices/views and yet there are so many who have been excluded from discussions because the environment has become hostile and cruel. We must be able to speak, even if we don't get all the words correct and especially if our voices quake. We need a space for this discussion that does not involve being shouted down or labelled in ways that are just not true.

We also need to quarantine (not sure of the best word?) this subject so that it stops dividing us and tainting all the other aspects of our Party; making it seem this is all we are about. Members and voters expect the Green Party to be a political party focused on protecting life on Earth and striving for system change to enable the best outcomes for all. We know that the media and other parties are using this conflict to demean and degrade us so that we fail and so... we must unite in agreement that this conflict will be addressed.

My first step would be to request the same circumstances that have enabled Young Greens to become the largest group within the party – auto-enrolment. When new members join and fill-in their details – if they match the criteria for Young Greens – they are automatically a member of the group and receive welcoming emails and engagement from the start (with an opt-out for those not wanting it) – for all other criteria, this doesn't happen. I don't understand why it's different for the Greens of Colour, Seniors, Disability and Women's groups - each would benefit hugely if this could be implemented.

I have come to realise that good outcomes come when we have many more voices in the conversation and I believe that GPW, when populated with many more members, will thrive.

Q2 I recognise this and like most women, have relatable experience; the fear, limitation and perhaps worst of all – the dismissiveness that this is the massive problem that it is. A strong women's group could and should be bringing this issue to members and requesting support at actions, campaigns and policies that will address it. The Green Party men I know (maybe I'm lucky?) are already supportive and I don't doubt that the ones I don't know are too but there is no opportunity or situation in which we discuss this in any meaningful way.

The past few years of conflict over sex/gender have made this even harder to discuss and created more division. However, GPW can continue to champion the rights of women to live without the threat of violence and for laws and sentencing to reflect this. Joining with other women's groups with the same aims will ensure we have the numbers and volume to achieve more.

Q3 I'd hope to see our participation with other women's groups of all sorts in order to expand our reach, enrich our network and understanding and truly begin to represent the rich diversity of women. From rallying and protesting around key issues for and about women – to joining as women together to tackle environment and social challenges.

Unity and power in a group are strengthened by social and creative events and we've seen how popular and enjoyable GPW's book club, yoga and chat rooms could be. During the first lockdown, they helped to keep us connected and provided a calm, welcoming and warm place to be online when all around was becoming so unfamiliar; huge thanks to those on the committee that made this happen. My experience amongst women in the anti-fracking movement was made all the more rewarding because we sang, danced, shared food, learned crafts from each other and found our unity outside of political/personal opinions.

I would also love to see us aim for a yearly 'Women's Conference' not just as GPW but to have an inclusive conference open to all women.

Q4 I see this too, the need to provide a place for the politically homeless as well as 'naturally Green’ members and the opportunity we're missing in not reaching out to them. Our party has exceptional social as well as environmental policies and at the last election, I often felt that Labour was reading from our manifesto! There have been mistakes I think in the way we have engaged potential new members who've come from other parties – a genuine warm welcome would be an excellent start.

As a women's group we can cross political and other divides and work, engage and unite with women of all parties and none, to achieve goals together ie: defend a women's refuge against closure, support victims' groups, join actions or create them around the impacts of climate and the lives of women across the world etc. We need to be open and welcoming and inclusive of all women from differing backgrounds, beliefs, abilities and politics and in doing this, we will grow.

Q5 No, the terms gender and sex refer to different aspects of a person. Gender is how we express ourselves and can be fluid throughout our lives, whereas sex is about our physical state ie: anatomy/biology that is observed and noted at birth. In matters of policy (particularly around healthcare) it is essential that the terms gender and sex are not misused.

I see GPW as being about so much more than protecting women's sex-based rights - but our sex-based rights are at the core of the group's purpose. GPW must be an inclusive group for all women of every race, class, ability and religion and the introduction of male non-binary members can lead to the exclusion of women who due to religion, personal beliefs or experiences etc will not be able to participate in a mixed-sex group.

I wanted to check 'official' use of the terms sex and gender and the Office of National Statistics definitions do in fact match my understanding. The UK government defines:

Sex as referring to the biological aspects of an individual as determined by their anatomy, which is produced by their chromosomes, hormones and their interactions generally male or female

Gender as a social construction relating to behaviours and attributes based on labels of masculinity and femininity; gender identity is a personal, internal perception of oneself and so the gender category someone identifies with may not match their sex - where an individual may see themselves as a man, a woman, as having no gender, or as having a non-binary gender – where people identify as somewhere on a spectrum between man and woman.

Julia Lagoutte & Alex Geddis [job-share] (Candidate for Secretary)

Q2 Alex: The priority of GPW would be to create a safe space for women to raise any issue that affects our lives. Male violence against women and girls (MVAWAG) would of course be an important discussion topic and the shared knowledge and experience of women, together with our creative thinking, would provide ideas to address this issue within the Green Party.

My own initial thoughts are:

  • to encourage the setting up of a group for men, to discuss and acknowledge their role in ‘everyday sexism’ and suggest ideas for how males can address MVAWAG (see: menatworkcic.org)

  • creating motions to take to conference

  • a calendar of events and campaigns that illuminate MVAWAG

Q3 Alex: I would like to see a series of meetings arranged at different times to enable as many women as possible to engage with GPW ( I am retired so I can facilitate daytime meetings). I believe it is important to ask women members what kind of activities they want, with an initial list of suggestions that may be helpful:

  • book group

  • sharing skills group eg arts and crafts

  • yoga

  • dancercise

  • a course on how the GPEW is organised, who is who and what they do

  • confidence building: speaking in meetings, applying for posts.

  • what used to be called ‘conscience-raising groups’ where women can talk openly on all aspects of being female in a patriarchal and misogynistic society.

  • ecofeminism: mitigating the specific effects on women’s lives

Q4 Alex: I first joined the Green Party because it upheld my feminist principles of equality; challenging sexism and ensuring opportunities for women in primary roles within the Party and beyond. In recent years those issues that negatively affect women have been side-lined, and in some instances denied. I believe that a strong feminist GPW committee will raise and highlight those issues and provide opportunities for Green women to once again challenge any instance of sexism or misogyny.

Q5 Alex: It is not possible to change biological sex. Hormonal treatments and surgery may change the external appearance of the body but every cell in that body is still in line with the sex identified at birth. Our gender identity is our individual response to the gender stereotypes imposed from birth and is within our control, depending to what degree we wish to present those feminine or masculine cultural traits. We are all gender variant, maybe on a daily basis! Feminists have been challenging these stereotypes, for both women and men, for decades.

A strong feminist GPW committee would aim to ensure that the differing needs of women to those identifying as non- binary or gender variant are highlighted, acknowledged and met.

I would like to work with others to ensure that GPW centres on women and the specific issues we face daily because of our sex class in the Green Party and across the world: and to change the GPW constitution accordingly.

Hannah Clare (Candidate for Secretary)

Q2 I know that harassment exists in the party and there have been numerous cases where it has not been dealt with. Survivors need support and we need to be assured that if harassment and violence against women is reported, they will be heard. Too many women and marginalised genders have come forward with negative experiences and this needs to change.

I would like to see more work being done by men in the party to tackle damaging behaviours, violence and harassment; because as ever it is the emotional labour of the oppressed who are having to do the work in tackling it. I would like to see bystander training organised at conference which could address some of this labour being put on oppressed people.

Q3 The secretary role is one of organisation – minutes and agendas etc. But I am willing to pitch in where I can and I am experienced in event organisation both professionally and as a party activist. As an elected councillor, I want to see more women elected as greens across England and Wales and would love us to do events encouraging candidates, supporting target candidates and crucially supporting women once they have been elected.

In my previous role as Young Greens Co-Chair and as an activist in Brighton and Hove I have run training schemes to do so. Being a councillor as a woman is a tough job – you are faced with a lot of challenge, abuse and all for very little pay (which means fitting it around everything else is almost impossible). But for all that it is also incredibly rewarding – and we can't leave it all to the men!

Q4 As I write this, I've spent my evening canvassing and heard from one woman about how let down she was from Labour locally and nationally. It is clear they are not an option for many. I would encourage any left-leaning woman to join the green party. My politics are left – and I have felt at home here. In Brighton and Hove we are providing that left-leaning leadership through Caroline Lucas and our 20 green councillors running the city council.

The most important thing we can do to ensure people take us seriously as an option is win elections. We do this by targeted and persistent campaigning.

Q5 I believe in Green Party policy – that trans women are women, trans men are men and non binary identities exist and are valid. Many of my non binary and trans siblings have experienced gendered harassment and violence. Although it is different, we clearly share common goals and experiences. I welcome them into GPW.

Elise Benjamin (Candidate for Membership Secretary)

Q2 First we need to hear (respecting privacy of course) from women who have been victims of violence, to understand the impact it has on individuals and the circumstances that led to the violence. We then need to look at what research is available to get a broader understanding of violence against women. I would then want us to run some sessions (via Zoom and at Conference) targeted at male party members to better help them understand about violence against women, and so that we can build strong allies.

We also need to address the growing problem of inappropriate behaviour towards teenage girls/young women from men they don't know (cars slowing down, touching in the street, etc), something my 20 year old daughter and her friends sadly have a lot of experience of.

Q3 Our priority should be to engage and empower women to be more politically active, so I would want to run sessions on being a Councillor, managing an election campaign, being a councillor, public speaking, and canvassing. I have experience of all of these including training local parties in canvassing. We should also be running public meetings on wider issues, including joint meetings with other liberation groups.

I would also like us to set up a buddy system and Zoom socials (more accessible/affordable than travelling) for women who are interested in being more active. We have so many inspiring women members who we could invite to host these socials. I've answered a separate question about violence against women which also addressed organising meetings.

Q4 If you look at our local election successes and the achievements of our Councillors we are providing leadership. As a former Association of Green Councillors (AGC) Chair I would want to use my experience to help establish a Women Councillors group to promote the wonderful work our councillors are doing.

We also need a strategy for responding to the misinformation on social media that has been circulating in some left groupings for decades. It's this misinformation that detracts from the very clear left wing policies that are promoted by the national party. This misinformation has also played a big part in deterring left wing women from joining the party.

Q5 The obsession with this issue amongst some party members, and wider society, is distracting from the work we need to do to empower all women. As an active campaigner against racism, and a member of the Jewish Greens exec, I understand absolutely that we need to move away from language that demonises and discriminates against any group of people as if they are of one mind and/or all act in the same way.

Reducing a woman's existence to biology is crude. As a party that began with the name People, we need to remind ourselves that this means all people matter and that judging someone on the basis of biology is unreasonable and unfair.

Nicola Watson (Candidate for Treasurer)

Q2 It would be interesting to meet with men to discuss issues which affect us all because of our sex. However, I suspect that Green Party men are probably well informed on the issue of male violence and we would probably need to reach out to men outside the Green Party as well.

Q3 Suggestions can come from the Committee or from the wider membership. I’d like a book group or film club. The books or films chosen must represent a wide range of tastes. I have a lot of interests and there are only so many hours in the day!

Q4 I struggle with the terms "left" and "right". In my view, the Green Party needs to ditch those terms and clearly demonstrate that we are on the side of the planet first, while supporting the people on it to lead the best lives they can. There will be tough choices ahead if we are to tackle the climate crisis and we mustn't shy away from this.

Q5 The terms gender and sex have been conflated for far too long on forms, in public life and even in the Gender Recognition Act. With a degree in linguistics, I see gender in grammatical terms and the gender of an object has nothing to do with its sex.

If you see yourself as non-confirming and are a masculine woman or effeminate man, that is absolutely fine and should not be held against you in employment or daily life. I have yet to read a definition of non-binary or gender variant that can stand up to any scrutiny. You cannot change sex and membership of GPW should be restricted to women.

Vinnie Wainwright (Candidate for Treasurer)

Q2 Violence and the fear of violence against women and other vulnerable groups is one of the major barriers to GPW’s members being active and getting elected. My first powerful reaction to this question is that I believe in my heart that it should not be assumed that it is the responsibility of victims of domestic violence to educate male perpetrators. However, as a committee of GPW, we can use our influence within the party to ensure that domestic violence against women and other marginalised groups does feature highly on all agendas.

We can do this by supporting all our members to be able to debate, propose and scrutinise policy motions to conference. I believe there is a real desire by all my fellow candidates to bring that about and hold all decision making to account. We also have a responsibility as a committee for GPW to raise the voices of victims of domestic violence within our membership and beyond, and ensure that our allies keep in mind that decisions should never be made ‘about us without us’.

Q3 A big priority for any new committee is to identify our strategic aim for 2022 and to pool our shared networks, experience, ideas and connections to invite speakers, facilitators and activists to inspire us and for our members to learn from. I would love to see a clear focus on removing the barriers of safety, poverty and opportunity which impact on GPW members being active and getting elected. Secondly, listening to the feedback of GPW members during this campaign, I feel there is a real appetite for a return of the social events which began during lockdown to provide opportunities to build connections and relationships between all our members. It would be great to use technology to very quickly canvass our members for ideas to develop this programme and broaden its appeal even further.

A key part of the portfolio of the treasurer is to ensure there are funds in place for us to begin the process of planning. The absolute central focus of this fundraising must be to ensure all members can access events and not be restricted by finance and I have developed a 3 Step fundraising plan to address this issue which is available in more detail @vinnieskips on Twitter.

Q4 I identify as a socialist GPW and I feel at home in our party. However my left-leaning friends who do feel politically without a home, often ask me if our party hears the voice of working class GPW, and I welcome this question based upon their perception. I see this as a key and vital element in the range of experiences GPW members bring to debate and policy motion proposal and scrutiny. It is the role of our committee to lead and facilitate events to help all members build the skills and experience needed to participate in that process if they wish.

Q5 I am very proud to put myself forward and stand for a position on the committee with the remit of raising the voices of all women and marginalised genders living in this patriarchal society. Our shared experiences as a group and our shared strengths in the face of the barriers we encounter are of powerful benefit to us all.

Mandy Vere (Candidate for Non-portfolio Officer)

Q2 I think the first priority is to name the problem as one of male violence and not allow it to be deflected into "gender-based" violence. Yes, males are also victims of male violence and sexual abuse, but over 90% of perpetrators are male and the vast majority of abuse goes one way. I don't think this means men are inherently more violent than women. It is their socialisation which needs addressing, along with society's victim-blaming of women and lack of concern for our safety. GPW could invite a speaker from e.g. NIA or End Violence Against Women, open to all GPEW, for education and strategising action. And maybe male allies within the Party would like to take on the "not all men'' issue with male party members?

Q3 I have many years' experience helping to organise author events and panels for News from Nowhere & Writing on the Wall Festival in Liverpool (from Andrea Dworkin to Bernardine Evaristo). Let's hold regular meetings, alternating a bookclub with speakers. We could survey GPW to see what expertise and experience we have in-house, and also invite outside speakers.

Speakers might include: Greenham Women; Anti-Fracking Nanas; End Violence Against Women; Bea Campbell; international women's environmental activism panel; Black British women panel; Hibo Wardere on FGM; lesbian liberation; Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl).

Book ideas: 'Why Women Will Save the Planet'; Audre Lorde's 'Your Silence Will Not Protect You' and other classic feminist texts; Wangari Maathai's autobiography 'Unbowed'; Robin Wall Kimmerer's 'Braiding Sweetgrass' re indigenous knowledge; Anita Sethi's 'I Belong Here'.

Q4 I don't know why, but I do know that many fantastic, left-leaning, environmentalist women have left the party, disillusioned and angered by the dismissal of their concerns about women's rights and boundaries, exemplified by the defeat of the women's sex-based rights policy last Spring. I share those concerns and believe that that policy defeat does not reflect the overall views of the membership but rather an organised faction dominating at conference. But women have centuries of experience at never giving up! The Green Party has the potential to provide that progressive political home for women and every other oppressed group and we will not lose sight of that goal.

The first step is to reopen the space in which to advocate for our rights, a process which this election has now begun, and which, if elected, I pledge to continue.

Q5 To me, the concept of gender is a regressive collection of stereotypes, which I have spent my life rejecting. We should all be free to express ourselves however we wish, wear whatever we like, follow whatever career or dream we can conjure up. So I do not recognise the concept of 'changing gender', which depends on accepting societally-imposed stereotypes as the norm.

Sex, however, is a material reality which is recognised in law, and needs always to be taken into account in policy decisions, due to the overwhelming discrimination faced by women and girls; from the sexualisation of young girls, to the 'gender' pay gap, to the disadvantages experienced by women in pregnancy, maternity & reproductive rights.

I believe we are all non-binary with regard to gender, and a good thing too. The membership of GPW has to be open to all under GPEW rules, but as for voting and standing for election, my preference is for it to be a group for women only, not gender variant people.

Meg Shepherd-Foster & Natalia Kubica [job-share]

(Candidate for Non-portfolio Officer)

Q2 We are continually appalled at the never ending list of women made victims of male violence. Every time one of our sisters is assaulted by a man, we feel her pain as if it is our own. In May 2021, Katie Russell from Rape Crisis England said, "No little individual measures are going to affect the change that is needed here," and we agree. These aren't isolated incidents - they stem from a culture that emboldens men to harm women, knowing that they will not face any consequences.

The burden of tackling male violence should lie with men. We wholeheartedly agree that it is a topic that needs urgent addressing and that men in the Green Party can be part of the solution. We deserve to live without avoiding dimly lit areas, covering our drinks, and changing our routes frequently. No one should live in fear. Men need to be the ones holding their friends accountable. When they make misogynistic comments or jokes about sexual assault they contribute to a society that normalises violence against women and non-binary people, rather than learning to view them as equals. Human beings, rather than objects.

As Non-Portfolio Officer, we would frequently campaign on this issue that is so close to our hearts. Meg is interested in the work of Doctors Lexie and Lindsay Kite, which explores the different ways in which society views men's and women's bodies, and how the environment and systems we all exist in encourage male violence. We've got some ideas we'd love to get working on like a social media campaign encouraging men to hold other men accountable or talks aimed at men to really portray the reality of life as a woman and just how much of our time is spent worrying about safety.

We realise this issue sadly often affects non-binary people too and as with everything else, our work to tackle male violence would include non-binary people and take this into account.

Q3 In our non-portfolio role, we would help to organise and facilitate events that empower women and encourage them to get involved in politics. We would consider ourselves to be at the disposal of the committee and work hard to organise events and speakers that reflected the breadth and variety of interests of all members. There is clearly an appetite for social events, whether that be, for example, a regular book-club, a resurrected podcast or a variety of special interest clubs – particularly those within the topics of health and nature. We believe that art in any form is a great way to share the human experience.

As a lifelong fan of Science-Fiction, Meg would advocate for seminars that looked at things like, 'Women in Star Trek' or 'Technologies of the Future'. Her first bookclub recommendation would be, 'The Dictionary of Lost Words' by Pip Williams, which includes themes like the suffragette movement, motherhood and injustice. Natalia would be keen to organise events to uplift and support women entering politics, such as talks about a broad range of political areas led by women for women. Working with various organisations like Elect Her and 50:50 Parliament, who exist to empower women in politics, she would love to build a support system between women in the Green Party. Another thing she would be keen to organise is educational events about how misogyny permeates society - these would include guest talks about topics like misogyny in healthcare and childcare as a barrier to politics.

Q4 We don't agree with the premise of this question. The Green Party is already a home for left-leaning politics - we both know some incredible women within the Party - and we are excited about what GPW can achieve in the future.

Q5 The Green Party's policies are proudly and strongly in support of trans rights, and we unequivocally stand behind those policies. GPW is a liberation group which exists to support those who face misogyny - this includes non-binary people who are sadly often victims of the patriarchy. We do not accept that there has to be a conflict. We share experiences and through GPW we can support and uplift each other.

Lucy Watson & Nicole Haydock [job-share]

(Candidate for Non-portfolio Officer)

Q2 Lucy: It's sad to think that males in the Green Party would only be moved to address the devastating impact of male violence on people and the planet because the women's group sought to call them out on it! However I appreciate that radical and eco feminists have a lot of in depth, on point analysis and bodies of work addressing this power dynamic and perhaps our group could be a useful hub of resources.

I'd like to see GPEW use the term 'male violence' instead of 'violence against women', as I believe being clear about the root of a problem is the way to help tackle it.

Q3 Lucy: I'd want to support what the women there wanted to have. A couple of ideas I'll bring to the table to see if there's any interest are:

a. Creative, political art zooms – maybe once a month, where we come together collectively to share ideas, support, choose themes to play with or particular issues to use as inspiration points , maybe sit and create communally, whether sewing, drawing and painting, music, whatever your thing. The visual style of XR is pretty controlled and 'branded', which is amazingly effective. But it doesn't suit everyone's ways of creating, and I think it'd be great to have a more freeform hub of creativity with an environmental/nature/core political value message/theme etc.

b. An online social event (with maybe a hybrid at conference) 4 times a year, where three people have a quarter of an hour each to speak about a subject they're passionate about. Can be about anything, with time for people to chat about what they've heard. It'd be a fun and interesting way to not only learn about a whole host of stuff, but also give opportunities to do public speaking in an informal environment.

Q4 Lucy: GPEW subscribes to the once mighty Stonewall, now a controversial lobby group getting gender/queer ideology into public policy and law; whose CEO likens lesbians to racists because they're same-sex attracted. Under its influence, the Party suspends members for not agreeing or complying with its ideological demands.

Gender/queer ideology:

  • dismantles safeguards for women (as a sex-class) and children

  • denies science

  • convinces mostly young people into believing there's something wrong with their bodies because they don't conform to regressive sexist stereotypes, or they're same-sex attracted

  • promotes/affirms a single pathway of extreme body modification to dysphoric, mentally distressed people, creating lifelong medical patients. It frames alternative approaches as "conversion therapy"

  • feeds a highly lucrative market that commodifies people

It's a civil rights movement like no other. GPEW promotes it more than any other faith/religion/group/movement, voting it into party policy. That's very off-putting to many on the left. It's a colossal mistake by all left-leaning parties to ignore or dismiss the impact gender/queer ideology is having, ceding safeguarding and women's rights to the Tories.

It's vital the Party reclaims its integrity and holds space for us all. Let's make it a non-authoritarian, multi-faith, multi-cultural environment, where not sharing beliefs isn't conflated with bigotry and hate.

Q4 Nicole: Our party is a broad church. What unites us all, and what should make us the natural home for every woman in England and Wales is our deep commitment to find solutions to global warming and social injustice. Sadly, we seem to have failed, so far, to provide the necessary leadership to the environmental movement where thousands of women are taking such an active role.

We need to be united. We also must focus all our resources from our 301 Local Parties, Regions and Designated Groups for the delivery of fundamental green policies, such as:

  • end government subsidies to the fossil fuel industries

  • introduce a land tax

  • legislate for a universal basic income

  • give farmers a living wage

If we are to meet the enormous challenges ahead for the future of the next generation, we have to become a fit-for-purpose party. Together, we can do it.

Q5 Lucy: Gender identities are changeable and unstable. That's not the case with the sex we're born with, which we (unfortunately) can't change because we're mammals. Conflating the two has huge implications for policy, not least because a lot of women as a sex class require privacy, protection and support away from males as a sex class in some situations. Especially when we're vulnerable to, traumatised by, or healing from male violence. There are other solutions to safeguarding and supporting vulnerable trans people, which need to happen. Prioritising a male's feelings above women's safeguarding and well being is the patriarchy in action.

A lot of us don't see women as a social or cultural role, a status, a performance of Western civilisation's ideas of femininity and stereotypes, a category of people who believe they have a goddess energy, or something males can body-morph into by using synthetic hormones and/or surgery, or by simply claiming the word 'woman' as an identity.

There's already a space for people who wish to organise themselves along these Gender/Queer lines in the LGBTQI+ group. I respect people's right to freedom of expression and belief, and I don't hate them or wish them harm. But we have the same rights, and we're allowed to protest having this ideology enshrined in law and policy. Without being subjected to the bullying, censoring, manipulation, threats and acts of violence that self-titled 'trans/queer activists', and their misogynistic 'allies', have become renowned for.

All the other groups are unisex, so I'm interested to see what would happen with an all female committee in the women's group, with a mix of faiths, perspectives and beliefs to encourage diversity amongst members. I think a lot of things would remain open to those who identify as women anyway, but I'd just ask people to be respectful when organisers of a particular group or event wish it to be single-sex.

Adi Daly-Gourdialsing (Candidate for Non-portfolio Officer)

Q2 As violence, at the hands of men, against women girls, and non-binary people, continues to remain desperately and disturbingly high it's right that we as a liberation group ask exactly why is it that not enough men are taking responsibility for what very obviously is a cisgender male problem.

The vast majority of this type of violence is carried out by someone known to the victim, and in a private space such as their home. Yet other than support victims there is sadly very little that GPW can realistically do to stop this. Violence by men cannot be made our responsibility, however, we can aim to engage with feminist ally men and encourage and embolden them to meaningfully take on that responsibility for themselves.

I would like to see a suite of GPW resources that help inform cis men and signpost them to organisations and groups that offer them the opportunity to fight against male violence.

We can offer them our perspective, our experience, and our views on this problem. The solution though is in their hands. So let's ensure they know this to be the case.

Q3 As a member of a political party that aims to increase our representation at local and national government level, I would like see GPW organise events that support more women and non-binary people, especial those of colour, who are LGBTIQA+, disabled, and otherwise marginalised, to be part of that aspiration.

Whilst I like the idea of bonding and relaxation events such as reading clubs and yoga classes, I strongly believe that as it stands our primary focus should be empowering women and non-binary people to stand for elected positions (both internally and externally). I would suggest that a working group build and deliver a timetable of events providing the information, training, and encouragement needed to support women and non-binary people be part of a change that is desperately need.

Q4 I'm a left-leaning woman. The women that encouraged me to join the Green Party are left-leaning. The vast majority of the women I know, interact with, and work with within the party are left-leaning. At party conferences I get to meet, chat and listen to women who are almost without exception left-leaning. The policies that we as members pass at conference are unashamedly left-leaning. Our elected women leaders, both internally and externally, are historically and contemporarily leftist in their politics.

The Green Party is, and I'm confident will remain, a home for all left-leaning women and I struggle to see that the party is in any meaningful way "failing to provide this leadership".

Recently it has been reported, by largely right-wing media outlets, that some women with socially conservative beliefs have left the party. Reportedly these ex-members, which may include a number who regard their politics as left-leaning, disagree with inclusive and socially progressive policies passed by the majority of party members.

Regardless of the musings of right-wing journalists and opinion writers, a small number of ex-members, and party leadership election candidates aiming to capitalise on a manufactured moral panic, the evidence speaks for itself. The Green Party continues to be a successful incubator of socialist ideals which with the increasing number of election victories translate into real-world change driven by leftist ideals, as we have seen demonstrated very effectively in Brighton, Bristol and Sheffield.

My message to any left-leaning women looking for a political home is to join the Green Party, especially if they want to be involved in real-world meaningful left-leaning politics that makes a difference.

Q5 This particular question, mostly platformed by socially conservative media outlets intent on maintaining societal privileges for men, promotes the demonstrably false narrative that Trans rights are in direct conflict to the of rights cisgender women and girls.

It's binary nature refuses to accept the complexities of sex and gender, how they interact with each other, and how each person's experience of sex and gender differs from the next, and how this is especially true for women and non-binary people.

In essence, it's a question that nefariously aims to reduce a woman's existence down her biology and is used to exclude women who don't conform to a narrow definition of sex and womanhood. This is the antithesis of what we stand for in the Green Party. We can only reasonably view this rhetoric as part of an ideology that aims to control women and non-binary people.

For me, as a party member, the Green Party has always represented trust and truthfulness. We trust our members to be truthful, we trust them to show respect towards others, and we trust them to use their privilege to fight for marginalised people. By extension, I believe the same goes for GPW. We should trust our members to be truthful about who they are and their reasons for joining our liberation group. As such I would trust a non-binary person with no shared lived experience with women or girls not to join our group.

However, non-binary people who are treated as or perceived as women, or have a strong shared experience with women, are as welcome as women are and they do not represent a threat to the rights of women and girls. They are our siblings, and we should include them without discrimination or prejudice, support them, uplift them, and empower them.

Zoe Hatch & Moira Dunworth [Job-share]

(Candidate for Non-portfolio Officer)

Q2 Moira: Gender-based violence (GBV) is, of course, a major issue across the world. We would favour a campaign to raise awareness of it, within the Party and externally. To do this most effectively we would argue to include our male colleagues in the Party in supporting the campaign - thinking about how we can encourage men to step up as allies.

Q2 Zoe: Absolutely agreed that we need to bring in male colleagues. This is an issue that concerns all of us. For such a campaign to be successful I would draw upon my connections in the campaigns team, the external communications team, local party officers, the membership team and all the elected volunteer bodies in the party, in my role as Internal Comms Coordinator - to make sure the campaign gets the widest level of traction possible.

However, I think that we in GPW need to get our own internal affairs in order before we embark on an ambitious campaign. When we have solid foundations we have a greater chance of success on this or any other major project.

Q3 Moira: With our focus on internal democracy and inclusion, we would like to offer some training on meetings (chairing, participating, organising), especially now that online meetings are the norm and likely to remain so. Our ideas for training sessions would also include how to be as inclusive as possible - language, posture, conduct.

Q3 Zoe: I completely agree. I have experience in online facilitation which goes beyond the pandemic. I also have some training & skills in organisational dynamics (through the IGA). Moira and I had instant mutual respect when we co-chaired an online meeting as part of Autumn Conference 2021. We have a raft of experience and, moreover, a deep understanding of why facilitation skills are such an important pillar in improving our democratic procedures - which naturally leads to the inclusion of all voices and increased credibility as a party.

Valerie Remy (Candidate for Non-portfolio Officer)

Q4 Regarding our perceived inability to appeal to left-wing women, as someone who has been active in many different campaigns and movements run or supported by the left since 1967 it is my considered view that although we have made some progress over the years we need to be more explicit in getting over the message that historically we represent a coming together of several different traditions not least those of utopian and libertarian socialism and socialist feminism, each of which have been shaped to a large degree by women. As a party we have a major part to play in the fulfilment and realisation of the hopes and aspirations nurtured by this proud legacy.

Q5 As a person who identified as a lesbian feminist transwoman in the early 1970s but was excluded from so much because of my biological origins, it was my good fortune to find a safe haven in the Ecology Party, precursor of the Green Party, in the early 1980s. Over the past decade, hard-line biological fundamentalist ideology which emerged among some radical feminists in the late 1970s, alongside other forms of political  fundamentalism, economic, religious, ethnic and national, has made inroads into the GPEW. Many other Green parties have not experienced such an incursion of an ideology so at odds with our core values and tradition of inclusivity and universality, or have been so only marginally.

So much of the campaigning carried out by this faction against trans, non-binary and gender queer people is based on mis and disinformation, and if elected I would prioritise a programme of trans awareness education in the party to combat this. After many years of living as a fully assimilated woman somatically, legally and socially, in 2017 I gave up my assimilation privilege in a Green Party context to participate in the struggle against this fundamentalist current causing our trans* members so much pain and anguish which has been a huge disincentive for such people to join or remain in the party. Of particular concern is the notion of a binary opposition between sex and gender which takes no account of transitioning physiologically, psychologically and socially. So much of the argument from this quarter is based on fear, ignorance, prejudice and disinformation.

We must as a party move on from being hamstrung by such matters so we are free to concentrate on crucial issues such as global warming, species extinctions and environmental degradation. Given that the women suffer disproportionately from eco crises, we should do our utmost to enable as many women, inclusively defined, to play their full part and have a leading role in the GPEW. 

 

Violence Support Helplines:

Since Q2 could be a trigger for some people, Meg and Natalia suggested including the following helplines to call for anyone affected by this issue:

24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 200 0247

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0800 999 5428

Women's Sexual Violence Helpline - 0808 801 0770