Equality, Power and Devolution

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2016 National Women's Conference
14 October 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that across the UK women remain massively underrepresented in the political and decision making processes that influence our lives, especially working class women.

Conference further notes that women currently make up:

o 29% of MP’s in the English Parliament

o 40% of Welsh Assembly members

o 35% of Scottish Parliament members

o 19% of Northern Ireland Assembly members

o 25% of the House of Lords

o 32% of local authority councillors

o 32% of Cabinet posts

o 13% of elected Mayors

o 17% of Council Leaders

o 1 in 7 of elected Police and Crime Commissioners are women

o 32% of UK MEP’s

Conference believes that whilst the General Election 2015 made some gains for women, these figures remain woefully inadequate in ensuring women’s voices are heard at all levels within our political landscape.

Conference also believes that the current devolution agenda will impact heavily on women’s equality as local politics remain heavily dominated by older, white men. In May 2015 three quarters of local authority councillors were male, 96% white and had an average age of 58 with over a quarter aged over 65.

Conference is concerned that the establishment of combined authorities will see more and more power devolved into the hands of men with little or no accountability to the wider electorate. Local authorities have a huge amount of power and provide many of the services women rely on. Local authority spending equates to a quarter of all public spending at over £100 billion. With more and more powers promised via devolution women are missing out on influencing these decisions. This is of huge importance when considering the ongoing cuts to local government spending has a hugely disproportionate impact on women, undermining access to key services such as childcare, social care and special services for victims of violence against women.

Conference also raises concerns with the current boundary review which could see the number of MP’s reduced from 650 to 600 and believes this loss of seats will impact negatively on the amount of women in Parliament.

Conference believes that trade unions are best placed to support and promote working class women’s voices being heard in the corridors of power.

Conference, therefore, calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

? Work with Labour Link and regions to provide women only training on Women and Politics to encourage and support UNISON women to participate in the political processes and to stand for election at all levels of the political spectrum

? Reaffirm its support for All Women Shortlists extending this to local government as well as national government

? Continue to support and widely promote the 50:50 Parliament campaign extending this to local government and all political elections

? Support 50:50 cabinet structure within local and national government

? Continue lobbying for an end to “All Male Platforms”

? Work regionally in identifying and prioritising issues within the devolution process and promote the voices of women as major stakeholders in shaping the future of local as well as national democracy

? Call for an equality impact assessment of the proposed boundary review

UNISON Newcastle Hospitals Branch