One thing that all these petitions have in common is some version of the following: “Women and girls have the right to discuss policies which affect them, without being abused, harassed or intimidated, and we condemn all attempts to undermine or limit the rights of women to self-organise, and call on the party to actively support these essential freedoms.”
Thousands of signatories across all political parties cannot be dismissed as easily as individual feminist activists who have borne the brunt of the battle so far.
The subject of single-sex spaces refuses to go away. It needs to be discussed openly without fear of reprisals.
From the Girl Guide Association and the YHA, to the NHS and the police, policies and practices have been rewritten which put women and girls at risk and contravene equality law.
Everyone wants to be seen as tolerant and inclusive and to get those rainbow-coloured diversity ticks and awards without thinking the issue through. What we are seeing is policy capture, right across the board.
So while it is encouraging to see this plethora of petitions as people wake up to the very real threat to women’s sex-based rights, the culture has already started to change and we’re in danger of seeing women’s hard-won protections being eroded.