Feminism and the Labour Left: a perfect political union?
Socialist politics has sometimes had a difficult relationship with issues of gender inequality and feminism, but, since at least the 1980s, the Labour Party has committed itself to championing gender equality alongside issues of class and economic equality. This article examines the relationship between socialism, Labour, the Labour Left and feminism historically, before turning to key feminist policies and debates in the present, in order to suggest how gender should feature in Labour’s programme for 2018 and beyond.
Socialism and feminism have the potential to be reconciled. The theory of ‘intersectionality’, an idea coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in the 1980s, offers a way forward. Applying an intersectional approach involves identifying the different strands of people’s experiences and vectors of identity and oppression stemming from gender, race, class, disability, religion and immigration status. This has yet to become mainstream within political parties, but it is vital for Labour to take intersectionality seriously if we are to deal effectively with all the facets of inequality in twenty-first century Britain.
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