Celebrating International Women’s Day with a Renewed Call for Change

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The 8th of March, like every year for the past century, marks International Women’s Day. A hundred years on, do the founding values of such an important day still hold true and what do they mean for women [and men]in 21st Century society?

Key to the principles behind the inaugural day in 1911 were the calls for fairness, for a voice and for a vote. Principles which are far from outmoded today.

One hundred years later, much progress has rightly been made on these fronts for women through the granting of the vote, legislation against discrimination and greater recognition of the rights of women throughout our everyday lives. This year, coinciding with the National Referendum on Electoral Reform, to be held on the 5th of May, there are renewed calls for that same fairness uttered by the Suffragettes 100 years ago, through a better, fairer, more accountable system.

Through a Yes to the Alternative Vote.

The Alternative Vote, is a system which would replaced the current single preference voting used in general elections through First-Past-The-Post [FPTP].  This system sees voters rank candidates in order of preference with a process of elimination where the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated until a candidate gains 50% of the votes cast and is the system used here on campus every year in SUSU elections.

“I already have the vote, why does it matter?”

The Alternative Vote is about making the vote you already have count. Really count. AV will make your voice louder than ever by ensuring the people you vote for actually listen in their bid to gain the majority of support in your area: Getting rid of complacent, unaccountable MPs and ensuring every voter’s voice is listened to. There was a time when FPTP worked here in the UK, when huge swathes of the population voted and only voted for the two major parties securing a election with support of more than 50% of the electorate. However, today in many cases up and down the country, MPs are elected where the majority of voters do not vote for them. AV seeks to change this by requiring the winning candidate to obtain at least 50%.

Some at this point will perhaps be thinking, “I don’t ‘do politics’ what does this have to do with me?”

If so, well done for reading this far! The simple fact is whether we love it or loathe it, politics affects every aspect of our lives. It’s not just about ‘creative’ expense claims or broken promises, it’s about more than that. The people you elect to represent your voice decide how much tax you pay on your part-time wage, how much debt you will have after graduation and even how much extra you’re paying for your pint.

By voting in favour of AV on May 5th you will be voting for a system that’s fairer, that gives power back to you and a system that really listens. Securing electoral reform will represent one of the biggest changes in politics since the Suffragettes won their long battle to achieve the vote on the same level as men back in 1928 and is a step towards a much better, brighter politics here in the UK.

It’s time to clean up politics and make Westminster more accountable to you. Your vote for AV in May can do just that.

Campaigners against AV often cite that the change is unnecessary, expensive and things are fine the way they are. However, human progress has always been about taking that extra step, making things better and moving forward positively. If we were forever content with the status quo and never strived for improvements this world would never have seen the excellence we so admire from climbing Everest to reaching the moon or securing the equal right to vote for everyone.

Just as the founders of International Women’s Day called for a voice, by supporting AV we are echoing those historic calls for fairness.

By calling for AV you are calling for a stronger voice and a real vote.

By calling for AV you are calling for change. Real, positive change.

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