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London mayoral candidate Mandu Reid talks feminism, equality and her political inspirations

London mayoral candidate Mandu Reid talks feminism, equality and her political inspirations

Mandu Reid, the Women’s Equality Party candidate for Mayor of London, is the first person of colour to lead a United Kingdom political party and is focusing her campaign on raising the profile of women’s issues and feminism within the London political agenda.

Having worked for the three former Mayors of London, Mandu Reid said that she is running because she has seen “just how much potential there is in that role for serious change”.

Whilst she accepts that the Women’s Equality Party is an outside bet for the Mayoralty, Reid is also running for the London Assembly and sees her role as both a chance to push equality towards the top of the political agenda and join the assembly to push for wider voices to be heard in the political arena.

“It is really important that a party like ours, that is focused on equality, is in the mix”.

“We exist as a political party because none of the other parties are nearly ambitious enough when it comes to equality between men and women”.

This was something that Reid was keen to emphasise. That “equality is better for everyone” and that the Women’s Equality Party are not just a single-issue party, but a broad movement seeking wider social and political change.

Throughout the pandemic, women have often been the most harshly affected, making up the “60% of job losses”, with women disproportionately represented in the retail and hospitality sectors that were particularly hit by Coronavirus, and with a significant rise in domestic abuse resulting from working from home.

Mandu Reid suggested that whilst the issues impacting women were not completely overlooked by the main parties, they were “on the back foot”. She said, “you can tell because it was a big revelation to people that domestic abuse happens on such a large scale in our country”.

“For me, the fact that it was a big revelation tells you that they’ve been snoozing”, whilst domestic abuse “intensified” in the pandemic, “domestic abuse is one of the most prevalent crimes in our country”.

This was an area where Reid particularly criticised her opponents in the Mayoral race. Particularly incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan; “during his term in office […] charging rates for sexual offences are a seventh of what they were when he came into office”. One of her main policies, both in the Mayoral race, and if elected to the London Assembly is to make “ending violence against women and girls a top priority”.

“People talk about crime, and they often talk about knife crime, well actually, violence against women and girls is a way more prevalent crime in this city.”

“If you address domestic abuse, you will start to create the conditions where knife crime is way less likely to happen, because we know that both the victims and perpetrators of knife crime are way more likely to have a background that involves domestic abuse”.

She is clear that knife crime is a significant issue and should be addressed, but was particularly keen to emphasise that it is a mistake to package certain issues as ‘women’s issues’ because they have a knock-on effect for the rest of society and myriad other issues; encompassing all genders, intersections with race. Focusing on equality can have a positive impact on the whole of London.

Her party are standing on a platform that intends to tackle inequalities that exist across all sectors, with policies on “housing, transport, and all of the other major issues.”

Talking about her influences before entering politics, she emphasised the work of Stacey Abrams, the United States Democratic Party political campaigner that drove the vote in Georgia, and was single-handedly one of the biggest reasons the Democrats won a traditionally Republican state.

“I have really, really admired her work […] she is a fantastic frontline grassroots organiser, she’s so clever, a great inspiring communicator.”

“The other thing I love about her as well is how honest she has always been about her background.”

Reid was keen to emphasise how the ‘realness’ of Abrams made her think that was a place in politics for her and that Abrams is the kind of politician she is trying to be. From the efforts of her and her party to push the agenda towards equality, there are certainly echoes between Mandu Reid and Stacey Abrams and she was keen to encourage others to get involved too.

The London Assembly in particular is an opportunity for smaller parties to be elected and to have different voices in the political arena, and the Women’s Equality Party are looking to emphasise the importance of different voices being heard and a broader political agenda that pushes for equality across the board.

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