I saw Sophie Walker speak for the first time at the London Leadership debate and she wants to change the world. If you only get one thing from reading this, let it be that. Sophie wants to change the world. She is interested in restructuring systems in society so it is fairer for women. Watching her eloquently answer a wide range of questions from the Women’s Equality Party’s membership, you could see her concern not only with regards to the inner democratic structure of the party, but also the party’s external action in the wider political sphere. She tackled topics including fostering leadership within the party, expansion of male membership, party public engagement, sex education within schools, Brexit, pension pots for women working in the home and other topics I have never looked at through a feminist lens before. And to Sophie I am grateful for that, because I have been enlightened on a lot of concerns in society which leave women disadvantaged and have been given hope for improvement as there is a political party doing something about it.
I witnessed two Sophies during the debate. The first was a woman who had clear understanding of several issues that not only affect her, but issues that may seem further from her experience. Sophie continues to advocate for all women’s voices to be heard at the table. Her fight for BAME leadership not only within the party, but her recognition of the lack of diversity in the big decision rooms in the country is a fine example of this. Experiences of women who look like me cannot be included in the conversation, if our faces our not invited in. I personally appreciate Sophie’s acknowledgment of white women’s power privilege over BAME women, just like that of men’s power privilege over all women. Therefore she is using her power to pull up others and create solidarity through actively listening to others stories, which is what is needed to change the world. And if we move from feminism as the starting point to engage individuals who are not familiar with how the ideology affects them politically, Sophie wants to put their concerns before ideology. She wants to know what they do for work, where they live, about their neighbours, do they have children, what is the quality of their childcare? She wants to understand them personally and design a system that works for all women based on their concerns. She wants to bring the furthest on the fringes of society first, and they happen to be women.
The second Sophie was the revolutionary, when she told us why she wants to be the leader of the Women’s Equality Party. She wants to make the world work differently and is not afraid to be a David, amongst the other Davids within the party, in a world full of Goliaths. She wants a total reversal of the crap that has been bestowed upon women through an alternative act of resistance. This is what wakes her up at 4am in the morning. She is happy to stand for what she believes in and is not concerned with people’s approval, apart from those in the party. Sophie wants to make activists out of people who didn’t think they could be. I think that’s pretty revolutionary.