The 300 women ‘missing’ from Welsh public life

Electoral Reform Society,

Posted on the 7th March 2013

It’s International Women’s Day. And it seemed the right time to show just how badly women are faring in Welsh public life.

Our Welsh Power Report assesses the levels of women across politics and public life, and highlighted a number of concerning trends:

  • The proportion of women Assembly Members and Welsh MPs is in decline.  There are 5 women ‘missing’ from the National Assembly and 13 from the 40 Welsh members of the House of Commons.
  • 295 women are ‘missing’ from Welsh local government.  While the proportion of women councillors is rising, the snail’s pace progress means full equality won’t be reached until 2076.

We have named 6 organisations which fall below the minimum level of women in senior positions needed.

  • Isle of Anglesey council (just 5% of councillors are women);
  • NHS local health boards (just 14% of chairs are women);
  • Welsh Government’s Department for Business, Enterprise, Technology & Science (just 19% of senior civil servants are women);
  • Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Panel (just 19% of its members are women);
  • Snowdonia National Park Authority (just 21% of its members are women);
  • Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Authority (just 21%of its members are women).

History tells us – and thanks to Barry’s Julia Gillard for this – that a woman born in Wales stands more chance of being Prime Minister of Australia than being a Welsh Conservative or Plaid MP.

It’s nearly a century since women won the right to vote, yet the level of women’s representation in some parts of Welsh public life remains unchanged from the time of Lloyd George.

Women are still being systematically locked out of power.  Whether it’s jobs, the NHS or school standards, Wales faces a massive set of challenges.  We need all hands on deck and cannot as a country afford to exclude people on the basis of their gender.

Political parties in particular need to look at how they bring on the next generation of talented women.  Different parties will have different methods, but all four party leaders should make a public commitment today that they will re-double their efforts ahead of the next election.

Read the Welsh Power Report

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