A stark warning on the threat to creating a gender equal Wales

8th March 2021
“If we don’t challenge and change now, then gender equality in Wales will stall and even regress.” That’s the alert from Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive of Chwarae Teg this International Women’s Day (8.3.21).

Cerys and the gender equality charity she leads have grave concerns when it comes to creating a fairer Wales, particularly as we approach Senedd elections and work to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of women in winnable  seats in May’s Senedd election is shockingly low and could result in a Welsh parliament dominated by white men and potentially completely lacking in any BAME women altogether once again.

This information, coupled with the fact that Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated inequalities, paints a very bleak picture for Wales. Women are twice as likely as men to be key workers, more likely to have lost their jobs and have borne the brunt of home-schooling and caring responsibilities.

Chwarae Teg is therefore challenging political parties to commit to the changes needed before it is too late.  Launching its ‘Manifesto for a Gender Equal Wales’ at the end of last year the charity called on those in power to harness a vision for a Wales where all women of all backgrounds and experiences can achieve and prosper.

The theme for this International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge and that’s exactly what we’re doing. It’s very apt given the dire situation we could face as women following the Senedd elections, and as we recover from the pandemic. It’s important to understand that this inequality is not inevitable.

“The next Senedd looks likely to be taking a very serious and worrying step backwards in the representation of women. It’s not enough just to put up diverse candidates if it’s only white men in the winnable seats. This is tokenistic and a tick box exercise from political parties.

“In 2021 it’s extremely disappointing, particularly as we have never had a woman of colour elected to the Senedd. We need to see positive action not just in terms of gender but also in terms of diversity.

“In our Manifesto for a Gender Equal Wales, we proposed actions and made recommendations. These included increasing the size of the Senedd to 90 members elected, with a gender quota; more development of initiatives aimed at women; and enabling people to run for election on a job-sharing basis.

“And when politicians look to our recovery from the pandemic, plans must target the root of the problems affecting women and demonstrate a real commitment to build back better – not just revert to type.

“Along with this we are challenging our future governors to build back better from the pandemic by targeting the causes of gender equality at the root.”

Cerys Furlong
Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg