State of the Nation 2022: “Act now to ensure that all women achieve and prosper in Wales”

7th February 2022
Wales’ leading gender equality charity, Chwarae Teg, is calling for a renewed focus from government, business and civil society to tackle the causes of gender inequality.  

 In its annual State of the Nation report, published today (7/02/22), Chwarae Teg outlines Wales’ progress towards becoming a gender equal nation and explores the experiences of women in the economy, their representation and those at risk.

The data set out in State of the Nation reveals a frustrating picture of gender equality in Wales. While we are becoming a more equal nation in some areas, against too many indicators we are making little to no progress. Wales’ gender pay gap has increased to 12.3% this year, only 29% of councillors are women, and only 28% of women in Wales feel safe walking alone in the dark.

More women aged 16-24 are now in work when compared to men, this contrasts, however, with an overall increase in unemployment amongst women, with women from an ethnic minority being particularly affected. 6.7% of women from an ethnic minority are currently unemployed, an increase of 2.4% on last year. This compares to an increase of just 0.4% to unemployment rates amongst white women to an overall rate of 3.8%.

Although elections to the Senedd in May 2021 saw the first woman of colour elected to Wales’ parliament – something long overdue – women’s representation at all levels of government remains stubbornly fragile and unequal. Time will tell whether we will see an increase in the representation of women at local authority level in the upcoming elections in May.

State of the Nation 2022 also brings into sharp focus the fact that women experience harassment, sexual violence, and domestic abuse-related crimes at a higher rate than men. 73% of all victims of domestic abuse-related crimes in Wales and England are women with 53% of all violence against women offences recorded being domestic abuse-related.

This year’s data exposes, once more, how characteristics such as gender, race, sexuality, disability, class, age and faith can interact and produce often multiple experiences of disadvantage. In order to create a more equal Wales, we need to focus on the most marginalised first; the women who face the greatest barriers and disadvantage.

Chwarae Teg’s Chief Executive, Cerys Furlong, and Research Partner, Dr Hade Turkmen, will be joined by Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt MS to discuss this year’s key findings in a webinar for stakeholders later today.

 

Since Chwarae Teg’s inception 30 years ago, a lot of progress has been made to make Wales a gender equal nation, but as our fourth State of the Nation report shows, the pace of change is far too slow. Against too many key equality indicators little to no progress is being made.

“While action is needed in a number of areas we know that two issues remain absolutely critical if we want to secure a gender equal Wales – childcare and unpaid work; and sexual harassment, abuse and violence.

“The continued over-reliance on women to provide care and unpaid work in society prevents women from engaging in the formal paid economy, maintaining key economic inequalities between women and men. A lack of affordable childcare further exacerbates this issue.

“Women also remain at far greater risk of abuse, harassment and violence, something brought sharply and tragically into focus in 2020 with the widely reported murders of Wenjing Lin, Sarah Everard and Sabina Messa, and more recently the death of Ashling Murphy. These high profile cases shone a light on the endemic and unacceptable misogyny and violence that women continue to face. An issue the affects every aspect of women’s lives.

“No single actor can address these issues, we need everyone to refocus efforts to tackle inequality. Government should consider how and where it invests money and how public policy can more effectively drive change that works for women. Business should think about how to better organise work to support those with caring responsibilities and what is needed to eradicate workplace harassment. And civil society needs to work together to support marginalised groups and campaign for change.

“In a Wales that says all the right things about gender equality and the progress we want to see, the lack of progress highlighted in our State of the Nation report is deeply disappointing. We clearly need to do things differently, faster and with more commitment. That is why we need government, business and civil society to act now to ensure that all women achieve and prosper in Wales.

Cerys Furlong
Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg

Register for State of the Nation events at: https://chwaraeteg.com/events