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WOMEN IN WALES


Ialsolookforwardtofurther


Mrs Butler speaking at a Women in Public Life lecture.


exploringthisimportantthemewith someofyou,withpreparations underwayforWales’hostingof nextyear’sCPABritish Islesand MediterraneanRegional(BIMR) conference.TheAssemblyislooking forwardtohostingtheconference inCardiffinMay2014andto welcomingnotonlydelegatesfrom theBIMR’sotherBranchesbutalso, Ihope,observersfromsomeofthe CPA’sothernineregions. Aspartofourconferencetheme


• Only25per cent of councillors arewomen; • Only10per cent of the Chief Execs of Assembly SponsoredPublic Bodies arewomen; • Only23per cent of local govern- mentchiefexecs arewomen;and • Only18per cent ofWelshMPs arewomen.


(Source – EHRC Who Runs Wales 2012)


Whilethesesoberingfigures


paintaveryfrustratingpicture, it isone thatIsuspectismirroredacrossthe Commonwealth. Iwouldliketoseemorewomen


usingtheir skillsinallwalksof life.Whetherthis isinthecouncil chamber,asamagistrate,apublic appointmentoraschoolgovernor,I believewecanuseourskillstoadd realvalueandbringbalancetowhat havetraditionallybeenviewedas male-dominatedpublicroles.


Putting thoughts into action AfterbeingappointedPresiding Officer,I initiatedaprogrammeof eventsthataimedtobringtheissue tothetopoftheagendaandstarta Wales-wideconversationamongst everyoneinWalesbutwomenin particular,tofindsolutions. Overthepasttwoyears,Ihave


beenmeetingwithwomeninthefive electoralregionsofWales.These


sessionshavecementedmyviewthat thereisaveryrealissueintermsof thebarrierswomenarefacing.Some keythemesthatemergedincluded:


• Alackof confidence; • Balancinghomeandworkcom- mitments; • Theinfluenceandencourage- mentof others; • Overcoming personal battles; • Perceptiononwomenin public office;and • Howwomenare portrayed in the media/role models.


Atanationalconferenceatthe


AssemblyinNovemberlastyear,as PresidingOfficer,Iwasmandatedto:


• Write to the Assembly’s party political leaders todomoreto ensure morewomencandidates in thenext Assembly elections in2016; • Setupawebportal that will give advice towomenwhowant to get involved in public life; • Provide role models;and • Createamentoring scheme.


Allfourleadersresponded


positivelyandsupporttheaimsofmy campaign. Wehaverunaseriesoflectures,


intheiconicPierhead,withfemale figuressuchashumanrights campaignerShamiChakrabarti,


leadingscientistBaronessSusan Greenfield,mediacommentator JanetStreet-Porter,andformerNew ZealandPrimeMinisterandUN ambassadorRtHon.HelenClark, MP,–theaimtoprovidestrongrole models,provingthatwomencan, andmust,matchmeninthepublic sphere.InOctoberwelaunchedthe #POWiPLPortal: http://www.


womenmakingadifference.org.uk/ wiplwhichcanalsobefollowedon Twitter@WomenofWales. It isafantasticresourcethat


givesadviceonallaspectsofpublic office,includingthepositionsthat arecurrentlyopenandtraining opportunities. Ibelieveit willbeaninspiration


tothosewhoseektogetinvolved inpubliclifeinWalesbecausethe portalalsoincludestestimoniesfrom womenwhoarealreadysucceeding inseniorpositions.Butourwork doesn’tstophere. TheAssemblyiscurrentlyworking


withourpartnerorganizationstodraw upanationalmentoringscheme. Onceagaintheaimistoprovide trainingopportunitiesandaccessto mentorswhoarealreadyinvolvedin publiclifeoroccupyseniorpositionsin theboardroom.Thisisnotexclusiveto womenmentors.Wealsowantmen tobeinvolvedsoweprovideaswidea breadthofexperienceaspossible.


focussingonEqualityofAccessto Democracy,weanticipateanopen andhopefullystimulatingdebateon gender,thepromotionofwomenin Parliamentandtheimportantrolein whichwomen’svoiceshaveimpacted onthedemocraticprocess. WhentheBranchlasthostedthe


conferencein2002devolutionwas initsinfancy.Muchhaschangedin WaleswiththeNationalAssembly nowhavingprimarylawmaking powersandmakingitsownlawsfor thefirsttimesincethe10thcentury. Reflectingthisincreasedpower


andresponsibilityaswellasthe growingconfidencehereinWales istheSenedd–thehomeofWelsh democracysetinCardiffBay’s waterfrontandthevenueforthe 2014BIMRconference. Therewillalsobeopportunities


attheconferencetodiscussother aspectsofcitizenengagement.For example,Irecentlylaunchedthe“Your Assembly,YourWay”consultation with11to19-year-oldsinWalesto findouthowtheNationalAssembly forWalesshouldengagewithyoung people. Wewantyoungpeopletotell


uswhatmatterstothem,whatthey expectfromusandwhatwecandoto makesuretheirvoicesareheard. Thisis justafractionofthework


thattheNationalAssemblyforWales iscarryingoutinordertoincrease engagementwith,andparticipation in,thedemocraticprocessinWales. Butthereis stillmuchworktodo,and muchtolearnfromotherParliaments acrosstheglobe,andIlookforward todiscussingtheseissueswhenI welcomeyoutoWalesnextyear.


The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three | 177


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