Senedd: Proposed reforms include Gender Quotas

According to a charity for gender equality, plans to increase female representation are "absolutely essential" to the proposed changes to Senedd reform.

Senedd: Proposed reforms include Gender Quotas

According to a charity for gender equality, plans to increase female representation are "absolutely essential" to the proposed changes to Senedd reform.

Cerys Furlong of Chwarae Teg said that gender quotas should be introduced in the next Senedd election, 2026.

Gender quotas have been suggested to jeopardize wider plans to increase Senedd members.

Labour MS stated that the Senedd's ability introduce gender quotas is "finely balanced".

Welsh Labour supported Plaid Cymru and the Welsh government on Saturday. This included support for a new voting system and Senedd reform.

Gender quotas are intended to encourage better female representation. The changes would also see an increase of Senedd members, from 60 up to 96. Six members will represent each of the 16 constituencies.

The new closed-list proportional voting system, which would allow voters to cast one vote and the political parties to decide the order in which the candidates are placed, would be a new option.

Despite concerns raised by some local Labour parties, trade unions, and about the proposed voting system itself, the whole package was supported at the Welsh Labour special conference on Saturday. 76% voted for the package, 24% against.

Huw Irranca -Davies, Labour MS chair and co-chair of the Senedd reform committee, stated that the closed-list system allows them to "go much further" with gender diversity.

He rejected Conservative MS Darren Millar’s claim that the Senedd reform committee had received clear legal advice that the Welsh Parliament doesn't have the power to implement gender quotas, as it is a matter for UK Parliament.

He said Mr Irranca Davis was confident that gender quotas will be in place by 2026 Senedd elections because, although the advice said it was very balanced, it stated that it could be done.

Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen stated that the changes would be a "strong leap forward" in the history Welsh devolution and that his party "prefers to get gender quotas into the legislation for next Senedd elections".

Despite opposition to the Senedd reform package, Conservative MS Tom Giffard said to Politics Wales that his party needed to "do a lot more" in respect to gender and diversity.

Ms Furlong welcomed the changes and said that gender quotas must be included in the "package as it is."

She said, "If the purpose of the change it to expand the Senedd in order to enable better scrutiny then that scrutiny will not happen by failing to address diversity.

"So, it's essential to the expansion of Senedd that those quotas are in place. Unfortunately, that is too often an afterthought."

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