This is my speech in support of Motion on Ending Misogyny and Violence Against Women and Girls at Council meeting on 31 March 2021, Manchester City Council.

Thank you to every woman who’s shared her story and spoken up today, and yesterday, and the day before and those who’ve been speaking every day for decades.

I’d planned to use my platform today to individually name & thank the groups, organisations, women that work and campaign tirelessly day in, day out to end VAWG, even when noone is listening, and to support women.

We see you. And we will do all we can to fight for proper resourcing, so no women need be turned away without help or a safe place to sleep, to include specialist services and support, for migrant women, families, and those without recourse

I feel your anger and exhaustion.

And that is why instead my message today is to the govt. Because frankly, without govt action our anger and exhaustion is going to continue.

And what have the government done?
– Well they’ve starved much needed services with 10 years of cuts after cuts;
– They’ve trapped women in violent relationships, denying them refuge, recourse to public funds, and access to support;
– And now they seek to silence us and take away our rights to protest with the Police & Crime Bill;
– Defended the higher punishment for damage to statues than for sexual assault on women, on the basis statues have a ‘high emotional value’ – Whilst continuing to demonstrate their own misogyny in the house, in the Mother of all Parliaments as they belittle and patronise women calling for change
– When Labour MP Jo Stevens, asked, 2 weeks ago, why sentencing for attacking a statue is higher than raping a woman, the Conservative MP Oliver Dowden, responded by expressing his wish that she take a more ‘temperate approach’. And when Labour MP Ellie Reeves, asked the Attorney General, Conservative MP Michael Ellis….. If he grasps the scale of the situation, pointing out that the Govt’s promised rape review is now 2 yrs late, the AG said he didn’t appreciate her use of ‘emotive language’

So, whilst I’m not in the habit of writing poems to Tory ministers, this is for you.

I want you to listen, to really listen

These streets aren’t ours
It’s best to skip from side to side
Dodge dark corners where men can hide
Keep your keys in your hand
Be ready to run on demand
Do you understand?

These streets aren’t ours
Lock car doors, stay inside
If men come close, pick your nose, my mum advised!
Just ignore the whistles and the beeps
Until you’re safely home,
Noone sleeps
Do you understand?

These streets aren’t ours
Keep your walk brisk
Don’t take any risk
Don’t go out alone
Keep talking on the phone
Call me when you’re home
Call me when you’re home

I listened, We listened, and we understood.
Still Sarah and many others, never make it home
And we each have our personal testimonies

To all the women and girls reading
Please know 
We see you, we hear you, we believe you and you are not alone

And to all the men reading
No, not all men are bad
But, yes all men have a role to play 
To change the culture, the systems
The structures, the power imbalance and the masculine toxicity
Which perpetuate male violence against women and girls in our City
Every. Single. Day 
We see you.  We know you.  We ask that you stand with us.  

All Misogyny is hate
Not to be downplayed, it’s not just banter, mate
Those comments and leers, 
They all breed fear
And No,  I won’t ‘calm down dear’

Because these streets are ours
Whatever the hour
Ours to jog, march and play
Any time of the night or day

These streets are ours
Whatever we wear
In heels, pumps or boots
Whatever our roots

And when hate showers down, we refuse to stand by
When others wrong, we stand strong
Because this is Manchester 
And these, streets, parks, public spaces are where we belong

Please know.

We will Rise, We will Roar, We will Represent
Until we are all safe, each and every one of the 51%

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