Progress is being made but more action and leadership is needed to ensure that council chambers are increasingly diverse. That was the key message of a Diversity in Democracy event held in Cardiff today.
The Diversity in Democracy is a Welsh government led programme, supported by the WLGA, political parties and other partners, which is seeking to encourage a more diverse range of candidates to stand for election to local government.
Addressing the event, Cllr Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council and WLGA Spokesperson for Skills and Science said:
“Local communities are diverse in their life experience, priorities and needs. Councillors from all parties and none should reflect this diversity in the skills and experience that they bring to council.”
“This is not simply a matter of equality, important though that is, but a need for council chambers to be filled with people who have a diverse range of life experiences and different aspirations; better diversity will lead to better decision-making.”
Commenting that there were only two women leaders and six women deputy leaders across Wales’ councils, Cllr Wilcox added:
“Decisions about the future of key services and council tax levels continue to be made with too few women around the table. Women make up half of the population and therefore should be equally represented at all levels in government. In the 2012 local government elections, just over 26% of councillors elected were women, an increase of just 1.5% from 2008. At this slow rate of progress, a girl born today will have to wait until her retirement before she will have an equal say in how her council is run.”
“All political parties have much further to go at a local level and we must all show leadership to achieve our aims at ensuring that there is no barrier to success.”
The Diversity in Democracy programme includes a mentoring scheme that currently has over 60 councillors and over 50 mentees signed up, with 20 of these mentees intending to stand for election.
Notes to Editors:
- The WLGA has produced a ‘Be a Councillor’ guide for prospective candidates, which provides information about councils, councillors’ roles and how to stand as a candidate. The guide is available here
- Further information about the Diversity in Democracy programme, including useful resources, videos, guidance and mentoring support is available here