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Women’s Rights Network to quiz Herts election candidates about fairness for females

Women’s Rights Network has hosted an event in East Herts to tell election candidates: “Respect my sex if you want my X.”

Campaigners Bev White, Jo Evans and former East Herts district councillor Jan Goodeve said reaction from the public was positive as they explained their mission to ensure legal protections for women and girls in the Equality Act 2010 are upheld.

They said: “The message is ‘If you want my X (vote) respect my sex’ to encourage voters to support those candidates who are supportive of women’s rights to fairness, safety and dignity.”

Jo Evans, former East Herts district councillor Jan Goodeve and Bev White
Jo Evans, former East Herts district councillor Jan Goodeve and Bev White

They will be questioning Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidates – with key responsibility for ensuring the force combats violence against women and girls – before the countywide poll on Thursday May 2.

On the same day, there will be 159 district and borough council votes in Broxbourne, North Herts, St Albans, Stevenage, Three Rivers, Watford and Welwyn Hatfield, but not in East Herts.

A General Election is expected later this year and the network is keen to quiz all candidates.

Women’s Rights Network
Women’s Rights Network

Bev, Jo and Jan said: “Women’s Rights Network advocates for single-sex spaces in prisons, hospital wards, toilets, including in schools, and changing rooms, for example, as well as fairness and safety in sport.

“Single-sex spaces are being removed despite legal protections provided by the Equality Act, which is hugely concerning.”

During their campaign session in Hertford, they said the “overriding response” was “I completely agree with you, but I just can’t speak out about it”.

They spoke to people concerned about the impact of mixed-sex toilets in schools which lead to girls avoiding using the facilities and risking urinary infections.

Women’s Rights Network members talk to East Herts residents
Women’s Rights Network members talk to East Herts residents

They said: “Are girls avoiding sports so they can avoid drinking? Given that so many girls drop out of sport during puberty, they don’t need another excuse due to mixed-sex or dirty toilets.”

The women said it was a sad indictment that one Green Party member they spoke to felt unable to talk or take a leaflet, even though he said he agreed with their aims.

A woman told them she only felt able to speak out after leaving her job in an East Herts school and others asked the feminists if they were afraid to campaign so openly.

The trio said: “It’s the 21st century, in the UK and women fear speaking freely about their rights and safety. One woman was enthusiastic in her praise for us and kept on saying ‘I can’t believe you’re here and doing this. It’s so great to see’.”

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