If we are going to take a sledgehammer to the oppression women face, we need to be prepared to take on the establishment.
If we are going to take a sledgehammer to the oppression women face, we need to be prepared to take on the establishment.

If Boris Johnson were a woman, he would not be prime minister. His incompetence, poor grasp of details and track record of lying would likely discount all but a white, male Etonian for the top job.

Unfortunately, it’s not just in politics that mediocre men are over-promoted while women are overlooked. Women in offices up and down the country will be all too familiar with the sight of a bumbling man climbing the ladder and leaving talented women in his wake.

The new prime minister assured us that women would be represented in his cabinet. But when it came to making the majority of appointments, it was men who got the call.

Of course, representation alone is not the cure for a society rigged against women. Let’s not forget that while prime minister, Theresa May imposed harsh austerity which disproportionately affected women, especially BAME women, locked up victims of trafficking and sexual violence in detention centres like Yarl’s Wood and cut funding for women’s refuges, putting victims of domestic violence in danger.

But we know Johnson has a woman problem. The beneficiaries of his plan to cut taxes for the richest will be 77 per cent male, he abstained on a vote to ensure women in Northern Ireland had access to safe abortions and just this week he dropped an investigation into one of his Conservative MPs who was filmed violently grabbing a woman around the neck.

None of this is surprising. The Tory faithful knowingly elected a man who once wrote — in true Trump style — that the way to deal with advice from a female colleague was to “just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way”, suggested that the increase in the number of Malaysian women going to university was to “find men to marry” and worsened the plight of a mother stuck in an Iranian prison.

With a prime minister like Johnson, what hope is there for the advancement of women’s rights? The UK continues to perform badly in its conviction of rape cases, women in public life face horrific amounts of abuse, cuts to legal aid are still disproportionately affecting women, BAME and disabled people, and women are still trapped in low-paid roles, expected to take on hours of unpaid labour and the bulk of caring responsibilities.

These are serious structural problems that only a government with a radical programme of transferring wealth, power and opportunity from the few to the many can address.

If we are going to take a sledgehammer to the oppression women face, we need to be prepared to take on the establishment.

We must stand with other marginalised groups to reject an economy and a society which maintains a status quo that sees men like Johnson reach the top, only to look out for the interests of people who look just like him.

So when Labour gets into power, we will do just that. The next Labour government will end austerity, tackle the gender pay gap, end period poverty, extend the provision of free childcare and audit government policies for their impact on women and ethnic minorities.

We will provide funding for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres, restore legal aid and appoint a new commissioner to tackle domestic and sexual violence.

Until then, we must stand against Johnson and the misogyny he embodies. Otherwise we risk losing the hard-won rights that women before us gave up their lives and liberty to attain. We owe it to them to fight Britain’s Trump every step of the way.

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