Happy New Year from Catherine and Team WEN

Monday January 4th, 2021

Dear Friends

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy New Year, and I hope you and those close to you are all well and managing in these very challenging times.

I also wanted to share our highlights that we presented at our AGM at the end of the year and tell you about our plans for the coming year.

2020 was a tumultuous year, but I am so proud of how our staff, our trustees and our members have worked relentlessly to help us move closer to our vision – a Wales free from gender discrimination. Thank you for playing your part in it.

Our fantastic film shows women from all walks of life across Wales achieving great things in 2020 while facing challenges both new and old in the face of a global pandemic. It showcases the stories of our members and supporters who continue to connect, campaign, and champion alongside us to create a Wales free from gender discrimination.

We continued in 2020 to focus on our three strategic priorities and will do so again in 2021:

  • Growing and mobilising a coalition of activists to campaign with us
  • Achieving Diverse 5050 leadership and representation at the Senedd and in Local Government
  • Strengthening women’s rights by ensuring CEDAW principles are enshrined in Welsh law

Some particular ‘wins’ for women’s rights that are personal highlights for me included:

  • Announcement of an Access to Elected Office fund which we and Disability Wales and others have long campaigned for
  • Agreement that Telemedicine for abortion would be allowed ensuring continued access to abortion during the pandemic
  • No recourse to public funds was removed allowing migrant women to access refuge and services
  • Our Feminist scorecard in collaboration with Oxfam Cymru held Welsh Government to account, and we led the women’s sector response to Covid-19 with our policy briefing, compiled with the support of our Gender Network
  • Our mentoring scheme went from strength to strength:
    • 92% of mentees who completed the mentoring scheme said they would be willing to stand as a political candidate – an increase of 25% on when they started on the scheme
    • 75% of mentees said they now understood how to apply to be on a public board – an increase of 71%
    • 91% of mentees said they are now confident to be the lead speaker on a panel or for the media – an increase of 58%
  • Our monthly WEN Cafes highlighted some of the key issues facing women during the pandemic and led to policy announcements and initiatives from Welsh Government on women’s health and on Universal Basic Income. The space the cafes have provided have really been welcomed by our members:  95% of attendees would recommend the WEN Café to a friend or colleague.  90% of attendees now feel more empowered to speak out.

In summary, we are all so proud of our work and can’t wait to do more and deliver more in 2021!

Things to look forward to include:

  • the release of our Four Nations polling work into Women and Covid-19 with the Fawcett Society and partners
  • ‘Race, Anti-Racism & Intersectionality’ Eyst Conference on January 28th – we are supporting the event in collaboration with Stonewall Cymru and Disability Wales
  • policy work examining Covid-19 and Women – one year on
  • our International Women’s Day online activity in schools throughout Wales
  • continuing to ramp up the pressure on political parties for #Diverse5050 with partners ERS Cymru, Race Council Cymru and Eyst.

There is so much more we can do when we collaborate, so please do encourage your organisation to join us if your organisation is not yet a WEN Member. You can check here if you are, and if you’re not, what are you waiting for?!

Looking forward to working with you in 2021.

Catherine and Team WEN