May 2020, For transparency we will publish all of our correspondence with central office
As committed members of WEP we are reaching out to you once again to move constructively towards resolving and clarifying our party position on single sex spaces and the sex-based rights of women and girls.
We are prompted to write today after a letter from MP Liz Truss to Baroness Nicholson has been widely circulated. In this letter Liz Truss clearly states:
“I have made my commitment to protecting single sex spaces for
women and girls clear. As part of this work I will ensure the Government guidance gives a clear message to service providers, schools and others putting their ability to provide single sex spaces beyond doubt.”
This follows on from other public statements in a similar vein made by Liz Truss in her capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities.
It is reassuring to us that the Government is making a clear commitment to protecting women-only spaces; from sports and changing at schools, single sex DV and rape support services, prisons and the right to employ a person according to their sex where proportionate to do so. As you know this aligns with WEP’s goals as feminists and women invested in pursuing meaningful equality for women and girls.
We are aware that the Government had not responded after the GRA consultation. However, as a party that centres sex equality we believe too much time has now passed for WEP to still be unclear. It is our belief that obfuscation and a lack of clear leadership on this has hugely damaged both WEP’s reputation and credibility. We understand that this is a situation you inherited. Having said this, the sex and gender debate was clearly going to be a defining and unavoidable issue.
We have been working closely with other feminists from all major parties (Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Conservative) who have also launched their own declarations. We are working together to raise awareness of the impact of sex self ID on women’s rights. Collectively we have over 7600 signatories and a rich archive of comments. Our own declaration has attracted over 700 signatures from current and ex WEP members. Consequently we have seen a shift in policy specifically towards protecting single sex spaces in both the Labour and Conservative Parties.
It has been reassuring to see the Fawcett take a clear position on women’s sex-based rights. It has also been impressive to see other women's grassroots campaigns such as Fairplay For Women and WPUK pick up the mantle, gaining so much traction - traction amongst grass roots feminists as well as traction with policy makers and legislators. This leaves us wondering how relevant WEP is if it abandons its key principle of sex equality. This also extends beyond the sex and gender debate. The submissions of WPUK to a range of government consultations have shown them to be both nimble and effective advocates on a wide range of issues affecting women.
We are disappointed that you have not signed our Declaration of Sex Based Rights. We would be interested to understand what your perspective is. If you are unclear as to our statement or position we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further. We strongly believe that WEP has had long enough to information share, consult and formulate evidence-based policies that centre the needs of women and girls.
We would like a clear response to both Liz Truss’s statement and our declaration. We also ask that a consultation is timetabled to start at the earliest opportunity. We have waited patiently for two years for a consultation and have lost too many active members as a result of WEP’s faltering on this issue. To disenfranchise yet more members is a travesty against the women who gave their time and money to set up WEP.
It is time for action.
Yours faithfully and on behalf of all WEP Womens Declaration signatories...
...we are still waiting for a response...