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Presiding Officer urges action over women’s representation

28 January 2013

The National Assembly for Wales’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, has written to the leaders of all four political parties in Wales to raise the issue of women’s representation.

She was mandated to write by a unanimous vote by delegates of the Women in Public Life conference which was held at the National Assembly in November.

In her letter, the Presiding Officer points to a drop off in the number of female Assembly Members since 2006.

“We achieved 50 per cent representation in 2003 which rose to 52 per cent in 2006 making the Assembly a world leader in women’s political representation,” she said.

“After the 2007 and 2011 elections, we have seen these impressive statistics decline and although initial predictions suggested that women’s representation would decline further than they actually did in 2011, it concerns me that we will see a further drift if political parties do not address the issue in advance of the elections in 2016.”

The Women in Public Life conference in November was the culmination of a series of seminars with women across the five electoral regions of Wales over the past nine months.

“These events have been inspirational,” the Presiding Officer added.

“So many talented and competent women from different walks of life and different parts of Wales have taken part, raising issues about barriers to women not only taking part in front line politics, but also standing for public office as school governors, magistrates or on other public bodies.

“The conference mandated me to write to the party leaders on the specific issue of women’s representation in the Assembly.

“I also enclosed a copy of the Electoral Reform Society’s briefing which found that women’s representation in public life has ‘produced concrete policy initiatives…and has been instrumental in creating more family-friendly working practices in the devolved institutions which benefit both men and women’.”

The Presiding Officer has asked the leaders to consider any measures that they might want to put in place that could halt the decline in the number of women AMs.

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