Earlier this week the 100th International Women’s Day was celebrated across the globe. Lynn Courtney has been examining how women’s position in politics has changed in Wales as well as looking at the issues surrounding positive action and gender representation in elected posts.
Should Women be treated as a special case when it comes to embarking on a career in politics? By which I mean, should there be positive discrimination, a quota system or some form of legislative lever to get a fair gender representation?
These thoughts come to mind, given the celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on Tuesday.
Some believe positive discrimination is the only way to achieve equal gender balance, others believe that women should get their on their own merit without any special help
Let’s look at the facts. The first woman MP Megan Lloyd George took her seat in 1929.
Guess how many female MPs have followed her from Wales? It’s a gap of 82 years so what would be your guess?
Well the answer is a paltry 13!
Only 13 women from Wales have followed in the footsteps of that first pioneer…
When it comes to local Government the situation today is
Only one of our 22 council leaders is a woman
Only 23 % of local government chief executives are women despite 68% of local authority workers being women
But when it comes to the National Assembly for Wales, women have so far done very well. In 2003 there was an exact gender balance, which meant that women were able to influence and introduce policy in areas that might otherwise remain untouched.
Taking the lead on areas like eating disorders and domestic violence.
And many of our Assembly members have made their mark and will be hard acts to follow when they leave.
Women like Jane Davidson who has passionately argued for sustainable values.
Women like Ann Jones who has made history in her work on getting fire sprinklers installed in all modern homes in Wales
But sadly no fewer than ten women AM’s are being replaced by male candidates meaning that in terms of gender balance things are likely to take a turn for the worse after the Assembly Elections in May
But in Europe, women are doing well. Two of our four MEPs are women.
They are Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans and the Conservatives Kay Swinburne.
I interviewed Kay at the Conservative party conference last weekend to ask her how she achieved her political ambitions
And you can see Lynn’s report on Women in politics tonight ITV1 Wales Sharp End at 10.35pm
With guests former Labour MP Julie Morgan, Conservative Andrew RT Davies AM and Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate Heledd Fychan