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Let’s shape a party that is socialist & inclusively feminist in all that it does – Chloe Hopkins, Grassroots Labour Women.

“The Establishment has long undervalued women’s work, expected women to bear the brunt of work in the home & treated women’s safety as expendable.”

Chloe Hopkins.

Chloe Hopkins, Grassroots Labour Women candidate for National Women’s Committee.

I’m Chlöe Hopkins and I’m standing to be on the Labour National Women’s Committee (NWC). This is a new body within the Labour Party structures, established as a result of the Democracy Review consultation with women members. The NWC will lead the political work of women members to organise and strengthen our voices and campaigning, to push policy that supports women and addresses their needs and to build the profile of the Labour Party amongst women in all our diversity.

We’ve heard many times since last year that the Covid-19 pandemic means we are entering a “new normal” as our response to the virus impacts on our daily lives, our communities and our workplaces, often on a permanent basis.

But in many ways for women, the impacts of the pandemic have amplified business as usual. Some of the hardest hit sectors are those which have a high proportion of women in their workforce, many of the additional caring responsibilities have fallen on the shoulders of women. The idea of stay home to stay safe is a profound contradiction for women experiencing violence there – and the lockdowns have seen a massive increase in this pandemic too.

These issues may have been exacerbated by the current crisis, but they are built on firm foundations of an establishment that has long undervalued women’s work, expected women to bear the brunt of work in the home and treated women’s safety as expendable.

In the UK over a decade of attacks on public services has had the most detrimental effect on women, destroying many of the support systems that we rely on. From public sector job losses, to cuts to domestic violence support services, to the closures of libraries, to the underfunding of public transport, to the failure to institute a national care service with well-paid and respected workers, women have often borne the brunt of austerity. We must recognise, however, that it is not just austerity, but capitalism which upholds the patriarchal system and keeps women as a group from reaching our fullest potential.

On a global scale, we know that the climate crisis will continue to harm women. Because sisters globally already face restrictions on their rights and cannot as easily avoid the effects of climate change, they are disproportionately affected by events, such as drought, flooding and other natural disasters, caused by the changing environment.

However, it is also true that women are leaders in campaigns to protect the environment and reduce the impacts of climate change. Whether it’s indigenous women fighting to protect the land, girls leading school strikes, women protesting harmful infrastructure projects and countless more women activists across the world, they are an inspiration to all of us that our response must not be insular but international.

In the face of these crises, what can the Labour National Women’s Committee and the wider Labour Women’s movement do? We can drive the Labour Party’s policy for women.

I am standing for a place on the NWC as a member of the Grassroots Labour Women’s team. We are socialist sisters prepared to challenge inequality and fight for future generations, for liberation and equality, for party democracy and a strong Labour Women’s Organisation. As a party we must recognise that policies for women must be built by women – and not just women at the top of the party, but all women members having a democratic say in how we respond to the many pressing issues affecting us.

And that means it’s not just about us as individual candidates. Your Grassroots Labour Women team would love to be elected, to serve our sisters. We will support and amplify the voices of all women in the party and work hard to engage the party with the wider women’s movement in the UK. However, as grassroots campaigners in our own communities, we also know that socialism does not come from the actions of a few, but from all of us working collectively and in solidarity.

Thanks to the democracy review, we now have standalone Women’s Conferences with the power to pass policy motions. This year it will be held online on the 26th and 27th June. So, whether you want to campaign for a response to violence against women that moves beyond the reductive “more police”, or for a policy on a National Care Service that recognises how often low paid and unpaid care work is cast as women’s work, or on how refugee women often face both sexism and racism in their search for asylum, or any number of other socialist responses to all the challenges facing us, I urge all sisters to  support socialist feminists as your delegates to this year’s conference. You have until 26th May to submit your chosen delegates to the party. But it goes beyond conference – CLP Women’s Forums may now become Women’s Branches, with additional democratic rights. This means that at a grassroots level, women can be at the heart of forming party policy and reaching out to women in their communities.

There’s so much opportunity in the new Labour Women’s Organisation and sisters, we must take that opportunity to help shape a party that is socialist and inclusively feminist in all that it does.

Please support the Grassroots Labour Women’s Team of Chloe Hopkins, Ekua Bayunu, Mandy Clare, Pamela Fitzpatrick and Tricia Duncan for National Women’s Committee. We are also suggesting that women support Momentum’s Solma Ahmed for the sixth place.

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