Letter to Welsh Party Leaders: Equal Power, Equal Voice – gender parity and equal, diverse representation in Welsh political institutions

Wednesday August 5th, 2020

Today we wrote to Welsh party leaders, calling for Equal Power, Equal Voice, ahead of the 2021 Senedd elections and the 2022 Local Government elections: 

5th August 2020

Dear Welsh Party Leaders,

Re: Equal Power, Equal Voice: gender parity and equal, diverse representation in Welsh political institutions

We are a coalition of 4 organisations calling for gender equality in Wales and for representation in Wales across political institutions that reflects the diversity of Welsh society.

The Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill is progressing through the Senedd, and both the Senedd elections in 2021 and the 2022 local government elections will follow. Together with the ongoing work of the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform, we are asking parties to commit to taking positive action in party manifestos and Members’ work within the structures of the Senedd to seize this important moment of opportunity.

We believe that political parties in Wales do not want to actively promote an unfair representation of power in local and national politics. Yet women have always been hugely underrepresented in local politics in Wales and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, people with disabilities, people of different faiths and those who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT+) community have been largely absent from political institutions. Governance and policy making is strengthened when diversity is strong, making for a healthier and more effective institution, that better represents the people of Wales.

In July 2020, we held a small cross-party roundtable discussion with Members of the Senedd with expert speakers Professor Laura McAllister and the Member of Parliament for Vauxhall, Florence Eshalomi MP. The conversation focused on the potential use of gender quotas and other potential examples of positive action and temporary special measures within welsh political institutions to increase diversity of representation, particularly LGBT+ people, people of colour and disabled people.

Action at this time could strengthen our young welsh democracy and offer a much fairer and more equal political representation going forward, which properly represents the population of Wales. While gender balance in the Senedd has been strong, there has never been a Member who is a woman of colour. In local elections, women make up just 28% of welsh councillors and elected politicians and candidates with protected characterises are woefully absent from our welsh political institutions. Quotas are key tools, not just to safeguard and protect, but to achieve or initiate positive change in the first instance.

We are calling on all political parties to:

  • Publish party diversity plans 
  • Commit to collecting and publishing data on the diversity of their candidates and eventual elected representatives in the 2021 Senedd elections and 2022 Local Government elections 
  • Make manifesto commitments for 50:50 gender balance alongside increasing diversity of representation of LGBT+ people, people of colour and disabled people in the Senedd through positive action to ensure that the Senedd is reflective of the population it serves

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss this further with us.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Fookes
Director of WEN Wales

Jess Blair
Director of ERS Cymru        

Patience Bentu
Community Engagement Officer at Race Council Cymru         

Rocio Cifuentes
CEO of Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST) Wales