BOOK REVIEW – Equal Power: and how you can make it happen

Equal Power : and how you can make it happen
Jo Swinson Atlantic books 2018 ( IBSN 9781786491879)

Review by jess Insall

“This isn’t just a book, it’s a call to arms. You’re holding an action plan for a world of Equal Power where each individual can make their own choices, free of any constraints imposed by their gender.”

Jo Swinson’s ‘Equal Power’ is a blueprint for the society we should be, and can be, creating. It highlights the stark inequalities that plague humanity, and provides practical steps we can take in our everyday lives to help create a more equal world.

Swinson covers topics from childhood and parenting, to work and politics. She also talks starkly about violence against women, including her own experiences of sexual harassment and nearly rape. She reminds us that despite the progress we are making, there is still a long way left to go. A crucial and recurring theme is the lack of drive for full gender balance, and how people are instead content with only an improvement from the previous, disastrously unequal state.

“Stop the self-congratulatory rhetoric about getting to 25% women, and remind people you’re aiming for 50%.”

As educators, pupils, parents, and campaigners, Swinson’s writing on ‘childhood’ is particularly relevant and informative. She calls for gender neutral school uniforms (whoop!), and explains the ‘Good Girl Game’. Girls are encouraged to keep their head down and work quietly. She describes it as a ” recipe for staying in the slow lane at work” as the louder, pushier men get ahead despite doing less work. To me this ‘game’ seemed all too familiar. As a young woman I am constantly told to keep my head down by society. The way the media teaches girls to wait quietly for a prince, being told to act ‘ladylike’, and being forced to wear a physically impractical skirt to school every day for the sole purpose of “upholding tradition”. Teaching girls this type of complacency is fundamentally bad for society. We need to teach our sisters to stick their head above the parapet and speak out for what they believe in.

Let’s all take a leaf from this ‘call to arms’ and fight for the future we want to see. ‘Equal Power’ will provide you with an arsenal of patriarchy-smashing tools, some small adjustments and some big new ideas, but all crucial in our fight for a gender equal society.

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