The Plaid Cymru approach to gender equality

28th April 2021
Ahead of the Senedd 2021 Elections we approached the all the different political parties in Wales for how they champion women in politics. We received responses from the Welsh Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Labour. Here’s the response from Plaid Cymru.

At the heart of Plaid Cymru’s manifesto is a vision for Wales as an equal nation and a nation of equals. We’re driven by the ambition of building a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different cultures, and the equal worth of individuals, whatever their race, language of choice, nationality, gender, colour, faith, sexuality, age, ability or social background. These are our core values. Our manifesto provides practical, deliverable, and fully costed policies that we can put to work to bring about our new nation.

A policy that epitomises our manifesto’s commitment to delivering a gender equal Wales is the creation of a Cabinet-level post of Minister for Equalities and Women’s Empowerment. Their role will be dedicated to implementing the recommendations of the Gender Equality Review in full.

Plaid Cymru’s manifesto commits to achieving a gender equal Wales based on equality of outcome, not just equality of opportunity. Inequality of outcome indicates persistent flaws within the current system. To get a clearer and more accurate picture of the extent of gender inequality in Wales, we need to change the way we measure factors such as economic success and employment. We’ll do this by placing the reduction of inequality at the heart of our economic policy. Economic progress must be used as a vehicle for the achievement of social justice and individual wellbeing. We will therefore measure economic success based on a reduction in inequalities in net disposable household income between Wales and the rest of the UK, and within Wales itself, based on gender, place and ethnicity.

For this form of economic success to take place, we must encourage employers to adopt modern working practices and embrace remote and distributed working, making work more accessible to women, disabled people, and other groups historically underrepresented in the workforce. This will be strengthened by our national, free early years education and childcare service. By the end of our first term in Government, our offer will provide 30 hours of childcare a week to every child of 24 months until they are eligible for full time education. The offer will give women the opportunity to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Our childcare offer will be strengthened by our commitment to tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace by supporting the call to legislate to add reporting of retention rates for women returning from maternity leave to the existing gender pay gap reporting regime.

The gender pay gap is another signifier of economic failure which Plaid Cymru’s manifesto seeks to correct. The gender pay gap in Wales is currently at 14.5 per cent. We will reduce it by increasing pay for social care workers, awarding real term wage increases for NHS workers, ending zero-hours contracts, and including the provision of gender balance in public procurement contracts.

To enable more women to enter better paid, less precarious employment we will prioritise women, and other groups historically under-represented in the workforce, within our post-Covid recovery plan. Investing in major training programmes, with targets for women, in areas where we need new skills such as construction, the environment, health and care, and the digital sector will contribute to this objective. This will be complemented by tackling the under-representation of women and people of colour in apprenticeships by stretching targets for all training.

Our manifesto also recognises the need to foster a greater understanding of gender inequality. We endorse the role of the new curriculum in tackling gender stereotypes as well as the introduction of new lessons on healthy relationships, citizenship, and children’s rights. To make the shift from awareness to prevention, we will explore options around a potential stand-alone offence of misogynistic harassment and make misogyny a hate crime. This would require full devolution of the criminal justice system which is at the heart of our manifesto chapter on justice and equality.

Our political landscape in Wales clearly demonstrates that we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality. Despite some great strides towards gender equality in the early days of the Senedd, we must now act to ensure that our Senedd and wider democracy reflects our modern nation in all its diversity and reflects all the voices and aspirations of Wales’ citizens. Plaid Cymru will pursue this by making the Senedd’s electoral system more proportional in a way that will promote the achievement of a 50:50 gender balanced Senedd whilst simultaneously increasing representation of people of colour, LGBT+, disabled and working-class women. In practical terms, this will be achieved by implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform, particularly introducing Single Transferable Voting, gender quotas and expanding the Senedd.

This is not a time to view tackling injustices and inequalities as a distraction or a luxury. Rather it’s an opportunity to rebuild in a way which encourages a deep structural transition towards the more equal nation that we all hope for. The first step towards that hopeful future is to vote for Plaid Cymru on the 6th May.