Ahead of the Senedd 2021 Elections we approached all the different political parties in Wales for how their manifesto will deliver a gender equal Wales. We received responses from Welsh Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, The Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Labour. Here’s the response from Welsh Labour.
The Labour Party is and always will be the party of equality, and in government in Wales, Welsh Labour has demonstrated our commitment to tackling discrimination wherever it occurs. Our mission as a Welsh Labour Government is to be a feminist government, making Wales a fairer, safer, and more prosperous place for women to feel at home.
Our commitments are matched by our actions and achievements: Welsh Labour’s record in government is not only robust, but trailblazing. The Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act was the first legislation of its kind in the UK and the only law of its kind in Europe to include a specific focus on violence against women, which remains all too common.
The Act created the position of a National Adviser on Violence against Women, and established mandatory Violence against Women Strategies at a local and Wales-wide level. It also put in place crucial preventative measures, such as education for children and young people in this area, and a national training framework for public sector workplaces.
It was also the Welsh Labour Government that established the Live Fear Free and the Dyn helplines for victims of violence and domestic abuse, and that put in place measures to end the scourge of period poverty, providing free period products across schools, colleges, local authorities, and communities. We’re proud that of the more than 100,000 apprenticeships we created in the last Senedd term, around 60% were taken up by women.
Ours is the party that introduced All Women Shortlists, and we remain committed to improving representation in public life. Women ministers constitute the majority of our Welsh Labour Government and, in this Senedd election, 50% of our candidates are women – more than any other party.
But there is still work to be done. With women outnumbering men as key workers, and women shouldering the workload in childcare and home schooling, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and shown us that in spite of the progress made, gender inequality remains an entrenched unfairness. We want to build on our record in government and go even further in constructing the stronger, fairer Wales of tomorrow, continuing to put women at the heart of our government and programme.
Although it is over 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, the gender pay gap persists. A Welsh Labour Government will explore legislation to address pay gaps and ensure that public bodies and those receiving public funding address those disparities, and we will also work with partners to establish an equalities legal service to provide support on unfair or discriminatory employment practices. We will also implement targets around Gender Budgeting so that all decisions by a Welsh Government are seen through a gender lens. And Welsh Labour’s pledge to establish a fair deal for care will include guaranteeing the Real Living Wage for our incredible care staff – predominantly made up of women – who have helped us through the pandemic. We will also use the Development Bank of Wales and our economic levers to support more women entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as support more women into senior economic development and transport leadership roles.
The need for safer communities has been brought into sharp relief by the killing of Sarah Everard and the national conversation on women’s safety that it ignited. Welsh Labour wants to make Wales the safest place in Europe to be a woman, and we will help keep our communities safe by putting 100 more Police Community Support Officers on our streets, funding 600 in total across Wales. We will also strengthen the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategy to include a focus on violence against women in the street and workplace as well as the home, and expand the ‘Ask and Act’ and ‘Don’t be a Bystander’ training and awareness campaigns.
We will continue to build on our previous achievements in government, embedding period dignity in schools and expanding our free period provision in communities and the private sector. We will also expand our Access to Elected Office programme to encourage more women to stand for election, and incorporate the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women into Welsh law.
It is Welsh Labour that has both the experience in government and the future ambition to make gender inequality a thing of the past. We will work to make our economy one that is fair for everyone in Wales – one where gender is no impediment or barrier to success. This election is the chance to give us the tools to finish the job, and move Wales forward as a truly equal nation.