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Leader of the Women's Equality Party Sophie Walker. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Clearing the way

Leader of Britain’s Women’s Equality Party resigns, citing lack of diversity

January 23, 2019

Sophie Walker, the first leader of Britain’s Women’s Equality Party, has announced her resignation from the role in a move that she characterized as an opportunity for “not white middle-class non-disabled women” to take greater control of the feminist organization.

In March, Walker, a former Reuters journalist, was elected into a five-year term as leader of the WEP, which itself was founded in 2015 by journalist Catherine Meyer and Great British Bake Off presenter Sandi Toksvig. But in a resignation letter posted to Twitter, Walker wrote that “frustrated by the limits of my own work to ensure that women of colour, working class women and disabled women see themselves reflected in this party and know they can lead this movement.”

“I am frustrated by complacency in the feminist movement and in political parties about making space for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, working class women and disabled women in particular,” she explained. “I think that sometimes in order to lead, you have to get out of the way (White men, are you listening?)”

In 2017, Walker ran for parliament on behalf of the WEP but was soundly defeated by Conservative MP and men’s rights activist Philip Davies. In her letter, she decried the current state of British politics as non-representative and controlled by a small number of politicians who inevitably lose touch with voters and contradict their own promises over extended years in power. Following her resignation, she said that her “urgent aim is to champion many new campaigners, activists and leaders with different backgrounds” so as to provide voters with relatable leaders who they can trust to champion their interests with energy and sincerity.

In a statement, the party’s co-founders said they were “hugely sorry to see Sophie go,” but that “we also we also thank our lucky stars that she was there from the beginning and stayed for as long as she did to see this new party fully launched and established.”

“We set up the party because we were impatient for equality and we wanted to open politics to the talents it routinely excludes,” the statement read. “We knew these untapped talents were out there. That didn’t mean we dreamed of finding an untapped talent of the magnitude of Sophie’s.”

Read the full story at BBC News.

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