October 06, 2017
 Women's Equality Party in Front of Parliament. photo courtesy of Michelle Blakenship PR Women's Equality Party in Front of Parliament. photo courtesy of Michelle Blakenship PR

By Sawyer Phillips

 “There’s an opportunity to make change. We’re witnessing a change in mainstream politics and that change is people have increasing mistrust in politics but also in the old style of politics.”, says author and former journalist, Catherine Mayer.

“There’s an opportunity to make a change. We’re witnessing a change in mainstream politics and that change is people have increasing mistrust in politics but also in the old style of politics.”, says author and former journalist, Catherine Mayer.

 

Mayer became involved in the political world because she was unimpressed. She was not just unimpressed she was also tired of the same politicians who, in her opinion, do not do enough to combat women’s issues. Previously, Mayer worked as the Europe regional editor for TIME Magazine but was replaced by a younger male colleague. According to Mayer, she was sidelined because of her age and her gender. All of this frustration came to a boiling point at a 2015 Women of the World Festival in London. As Mayer illustrates it, something palpable occurred when the topic of politics came up.                                                                  

 

“There was an event about women in politics. There were women there from the main three political parties talking about what their parties would do if they were elected for women and instead of the auditorium full of women...getting excited by these vibrant women on stage they were just increasingly depressed and I heard women talking about not voting at all.”, describes Mayer.

 

Instead of becoming discouraged Mayer, with no prior political experience, took a leap and tried something new.

 

“This propelled me to my feet I had not prepared anything to say. I did not intend to. But I just simply asked the question: do we need a party that is specifically focused on gender equality?”,she says.

 

The Women’s Equality Party sprung to life and soon gained considerable traction. Mayer claims the party was able to take off and within just a few days, the party had thousands of volunteers.

 

“I have a friend who is a very well known broadcaster in the UK called Sandi Toksvigand I rang her to tell her about it. It turned out that she had sort of had the same ideas so we worked together to see if it was possible. The first Facebook page I created [was] just to talk about  having a meeting to discuss this--5,000 people signed up for it in a couple of days.”

 

Catherine Mayer’s story signals how women are not only increasingly becoming involved in politics but also changing the landscape. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, attention to politics, especially among American women, has increased. The survey showed that 58 percent of women say they are more attentive to politics since the 2016 presidential election as opposed to 46 percent of men.

 

 An article featured in Vogue showcases the various women, some who had no prior experience in politics, that are inspired to be the politicians they want to see in office. The women featured span eclectic backgrounds. These political newcomers include a family doctor and a U.S. Navy veteran. 

 

It’s not just older women who are leading the political resistance, millennial women are running for office as well. Faith Chikwekwe is a Democrat running against a GOP candidate for a seat in the State House of Georgia. Some of the topics that Chikwekwe says she’s focusing on include free college tuition for Georgia students, income inequality and women’s issues. 

 

Even though Pew’s poll shows a rise in women becoming concerned and involved in politics, some support the narrative that women’s issues do not exist. Kentucky State Treasurer, Allison Ball, said there are “no women’s issues only people’s issues” during a speech at the National Federation of Republican Women in Philadelphia. During her speech, Ball also encouraged women to run for office to prove her point. 

 

Mayer explains the need for women in politics does not erase the sometimes conflicting views among women. 

 

“You...can’t treat women as a monolith. You had, of course, the thing here that seems to have shocked a lot of people is the number of women who voted for Trump. You have to understand that women are also products of a socialization that gives them mixed and often wrong-headed messaging about what is their best interest what’s in everyone’s best interest so that’s something that one has to debate and fight for.”, Mayer says. 

 

Despite the differing views, Mayer says that some women are receptive to the Women’s Equality Party because people are searching for a way to make their own difference.

 

“They want something new they’re just not quite sure what it looks like. I thought maybe if I could show something benign and show something different people would respond to it and they responded to it far more than I could ever imagine.”, says Mayer.