MAKERS UK Cause Spotlight: Sandi Toksvig
While Sandi Toksvig co-founded Britain’s newest political party, The Women’s Equality Party, in April 2015, her calling to work to solve the world’s injustices began much earlier.
In 1976, she entered Cambridge University, where she had “every intention” of becoming a human rights lawyer. However, “What I discovered along the way is, it’s perfectly possible to fight injustice and to seek better human rights for everybody in ways other than through the courtroom—there are other ways of doing it, and maybe people pay more attention if you do it through humor,” Toksvig told MAKERS UK.
Humor came naturally. “There aren’t any role models as a young gay person growing up in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, and certainly nobody talked about it… It brings out the humor in you, because that’s the defense mechanism,” she said. While at Cambridge, Toksvig joined legendary comedy society The Footlights, where she established the first all-female review, and after graduating began performing in plays and musicals.
Making her television debut in 1982 and later becoming one of Britain’s best-known writers and comedy performers, Toksvig entered unchartered waters when in 1994, at age 30 with three young children, she decided to speak publicly about her sexuality. “I wanted [my children] to be proud—I didn’t want them to grow up thinking there was anything at all to be ashamed of having two moms,” she said.
The tabloid frenzy, death threats and police protection that followed was terrifying, but Toksvig began to receive letters of support from women who said her bravery in speaking her truth inspired them to do the same.
Toksvig’s activism culminated with the introduction of The Women’s Equality Party, or WEP, whose goals include equal representation in politics and the boardroom, equal pay, equal parenting rights, equality of and through education, equal treatment by and in the media and an end to violence against women.
After one year of existence, WEP has more 70 branches across the UK, with thousands of both female and male members from all walks of life. WEP are standing candidates in the London, Welsh and Scottish elections of May 2016. Toksvig summarizes, “What I want is for 100 percent of the talent on the planet to work together to solve the problems, and not just 50 percent.”
Photo Credit: Debbie Toksvig