What Sian Gwenllian said about gender quotas



(Title Image: Focus Magazines)

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of granting women the right to vote in the UK – though it still had additional restrictions compared to men. How much progress has been made in terms of women’s participation in politics and gender equality?

Proponent: Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon)
Subject: “A century since women gained the right to vote, but does Wales have equality today?”

Summary

  • When women got the right to vote in 1918 it was restricted to landowners aged over-30, while all men aged 21 or over could vote. Equality wasn’t achieved until 1928.
  • A gender pay gap of around 15% still exists and 27% of women will be a victim of domestic abuse compared to 13% of men. Sian’s generation has been guilty of “sweeping certain types of abuse under the carpet”.
  • Only 28% of councillors and MPs in Wales are women, and while there was gender parity in the Senedd in 2003, it’s slipped to 42% of women being AMs; women AMs raise issues such as childcare, domestic abuse and unequal pay more often than men.
  • Sian supports introducing a legally-binding 50:50 gender quota for political candidates in the Assembly.
  • Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan): Wales has led the way in making a violence against women law; welcomes step forward in companies publishing pay information by gender.
  • Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North): Supports legislation for gender quotas as the current approach within parties hasn’t entirely worked, but the issues aren’t straightforward.
  • Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales): Women’s voices are missing in local government.
  • Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West): Not convinced that a law is the way to do things, would prefer encouragement and valuing women’s strengths so they come forward willingly; a quota could limit the number of women being elected to 50%.

Government Response

Leader of the House, Julie James AM (Lab, Swansea West)

  • Proud to have been elected via an all-women shortlist after the backing of her constituency party.
  • The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 but still hasn’t been fully implemented.
  • Participants on Chwarae Teg’s Agile Nation project have received, on average, £3,000 a year pay rises after being taught how to stand up for their own rights.
  • £300,000 is allocated to commemorate the suffragettes; female Welsh colonists in Y Wladfa got the vote at age 18 in 1865.
  • There will be a public vote to decide 100 notable Welsh women.
  • “Absolutely determined” that every Welsh Government-sponsored body should have 50% women on their boards by 2021; no mention of gender quotas for the Assembly elections, though.

Fulfilling my quota.

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