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Equal Power: And How You Can Make It Happen Hardcover – 1 Feb 2018
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About the Author
Jo Swinson is a Member of Parliament, and deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats. From 2012 to 2015 she served as a Government Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and Minister for Women and Equalities. Her achievements included introducing shared parental leave and legislating to require gender pay gap reporting. First elected at the age of 25, Jo represented her home seat of East Dunbartonshire for a decade until 2015. She wrote Equal Power while out of Parliament, before regaining her seat in the 2017 election.
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This is an excellent book. It covers the distribution of gender-related power across several areas including public life, family, work, and online/in the media. It sets out the issues clearly, relates stories and conversations from relevant people, and ends each chapter with a set of action points.
One of the main things I enjoyed about this book is that Jo's authentic voice shines through. Her anger and frustration are clearly felt and articulated, in her straightforward and direct (and fun!) manner. It's also clear that she's rightly proud of introducing Shared Parental Leave in the UK - an example of where politics, campaigning, and knowing the system has delivered results.
Worth picking up!
Jo Swinson’s ‘Equal Power’ is a blueprint for the society we should be, and can be, creating. It highlights the stark inequalities that plague humanity, and provides practical steps we can take in our everyday lives to help create a more equal world.
Swinson covers topics from childhood and parenting, to work and politics. She also talks starkly about violence against women, including her own experiences of sexual harassment and nearly rape. She reminds us that despite the progress we are making, there is still a long way left to go. A crucial and recurring theme is the lack of drive for full gender balance, and how people are instead content with only an improvement from the previous, disastrously unequal state.
“Stop the self-congratulatory rhetoric about getting to 25% women, and remind people you’re aiming for 50%.”
As educators, pupils, parents, and campaigners, Swinson’s writing on ‘childhood’ is particularly relevant and informative. She calls for gender neutral school uniforms (whoop!), and explains the ‘Good Girl Game’. Girls are encouraged to keep their head down and work quietly. She describes it as a ” recipe for staying in the slow lane at work” as the louder, pushier men get ahead despite doing less work. To me this ‘game’ seemed all too familiar. As a young woman I am constantly told to keep my head down by society. The way the media teaches girls to wait quietly for a prince, being told to act ‘ladylike’, and being forced to wear a physically impractical skirt to school every day for the sole purpose of “upholding tradition”. Teaching girls this type of complacency is fundamentally bad for society. We need to teach our sisters to stick their head above the parapet and speak out for what they believe in.
Let’s all take a leaf from this ‘call to arms’ and fight for the future we want to see. ‘Equal Power’ will provide you with an arsenal of patriarchy-smashing tools, some small adjustments and some big new ideas, but all crucial in our fight for a gender equal society.
Be sure to use the hashtag #EqualPower to share your experiences fighting for equality!
You feel challenged and inspired after reading it.
Jo Swinson skillfully assembles myriad strands of well referenced supportive reasoning that passionately highlight the gross disparities of opportunity between men and women.
She cogently argues that the world would be a much better place if men and women had equal power, and sets out a range of strategies concerning how we can work in harmony towards bringing this about this objective.
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