Petitioning for the establishment of a Welsh Minister for Gender Equality

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UNA Wales believes that gender inequality inhibits Wales’ progress. The Welsh Assembly Government’s history, of housing a solid number of elected female candidates, would perhaps point to a fairer state of equality, particularly when compared with the much smaller percentages on show in Westminster. However, men and women want, and deserve, a government they can trust, and a government that can deliver. At the moment, the status of women falls under the realms of the Minister of Equality, but, it is argued, that a subject as great as gender equality, deserves an Assembly Member’s full attention, in order for there to be greater results.
 
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In a 2011 survey of 50 top Welsh companies, only 2 women were found to be at the senior position. Also, before the 2012 local council elections, there was only one female council leader, and only 25% of councillors for the whole of Wales were women, a figure disturbingly low. Thus, there is still much to be done regarding gender imbalances in Wales, and UNA Wales fully endorses the creation of this new post, which should hope to give issues of gender inequality, greater attention. It is time to build gender equality into the core thinking of everyday Welsh life: integrating a greater respect for diversity, and an equality of opportunity which everyone can enjoy. The position of Minister for Gender Equality is set to empower both men and women, and tackle gendered issues of contention head on.

By studying other parliaments, of similar sizes to our own, we can see just how necessary and central gender equality is to a country’s constitution, with both Denmark, and New Zealand, occupying a Minister for Gender Equality, and Minister of Women’s Affairs, respectively. The success this can have should not be doubted, with New Zealand and Denmark ranking 5th and 7th in the 2008 Global Gender Gap Report conducted by the World Economic Forum, and boasting impressive records. Indeed, the UK’s 13th is nothing to be ashamed of, but why should Wales settle for one Minister for Women, all the way in Whitehall? Why not follow the likes of New Zealand and Denmark, with their relatively small populations, and dedicate a parliamentarian, time, and resources to solving issues of Gender inequality here in Wales? UNA Wales believes it is time to challenge the chronic levels of gender inequality which pervade Welsh society, and has thus far, proved resistant to change.

There are lessons to be learnt and best practices to be implemented here in Wales. Three areas which need urgent addressing, which a Welsh Minister for Gender Equality could tackle, include domestic violence (with over 150,000 women in Wales suffering from some form of gender based violence every year); women’s economic security (The Office of National Statistics released figures in 2011 showing that the full-time gender pay gap in Wales has risen to 12.7%, up from 10.3% in 2007’s report, during a time of economic hardship, women cannot afford to be short changed in this way); and ensuring equality exists in all areas of life (for example, there remains no women’s prison in the whole of Wales, meaning that mothers struggle to see families and friends due to their being locked away in far off locations). The Cabinet of the Welsh Assembly Government needs a voice championing gender equality, and it needs it now.

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