Guest post: Join the Women’s Bloc at the Great British Street Party


This is a guest post by Roxanne Halsey, UK Feminista

Photo credit: Judy Gr

We’ve all heard many times the ways in which women are disproportionately affected by the cuts. The arguments are already out there, whether it’s because the majority of public sector jobs to be cut are held by women, whether it’s that we use the NHS more in our lifetimes, or whether it’s to do with the closed down SureStart centres, Rape Crisis centres, or cuts to childcare benefits.

We know the story. I’d like to tell you something different.

Yes, we are facing an attack on women’s equality. But this has led to a resurgence in feminist action, especially from younger women and men. We have seen UK Uncut activists turn an HSBC into a crèche to protest the cuts to childcare, a group of women lie down in the road to block Osborne’s budget and many more.

So let’s do it again.

On May 26th, UK Uncut are hosting their own Great British Street Parties as an alternative to all those Jubilee Lunches we are supposed to be having. When all the world’s eyes are on us and the government wants us to politely eat cake and wear a smile, I would rather talk about what’s really going on.

The parties are inspired by the year 1948, a moment in history that holds many parallels to 2012. There were parties that year to welcome the Olympics, and to celebrate a feeling of hope and pride that people felt as they looked forwards from the war and built the Welfare State and the NHS, never mind that the post-war deficit they faced was much bigger than ours today.

Of course, there are many differences between the lives of women in 1948 and now in 2012. I’m sure we all agree that we’ve come a long way! But what are our biggest achievements? Yes, it is more acceptable to be unmarried or a single mother, but these achievements now seem nominal when they’re not safeguarded at all by the government’s cuts programme. Yes, it’s easier for us to work, but will this be for much longer, as we have seen women’s unemployment soar to it’s highest level in twenty five years?

Direct action is an amazing way for women to take the power back. You don’t need to have studied politics or even to have gone to a protest before. All you need is your self, and the willingness to stand up and call for change. As a volunteer for UK Feminista, I am keen to see women everywhere taking action for gender equality, and I think this is a good place to start.

So instead of having a party for the Queen or the Olympics, let’s have a party for the services we want to protect. Instead of taking the Government’s austerity measures without a fight, let’s discuss the alternatives for ourselves.

I will be attending the street party in London and joining the women’s bloc. I will stand with other women on the front line of this fight against the cuts, and then join the party and look to the future we want to see. If the government isn’t interested in giving women the power we want, then we’ll just have to take it ourselves.