Women’s organisations challenge mayoral candidates on gender equality. First West Midlands Hustings

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Ahead of International Women’s Day, West Midlands Women’s Voice with support of gender equality campaigning charity the Fawcett Society, is asking all Mayoral candidates to commit to a more equal future in the region for women and girls.

Across the country women remain under-represented in politics and in positions of power – in the West Midlands just 6 out of the 32 West Midlands Combined Authority board members are women (19%). 

We know that women have suffered disproportionately due to COVID, with three in ten women in the West Midlands (27%) reporting that they are ‘struggling or worse off’ financially since the start of the pandemic.

Before coronavirus hit, The Fawcett Society’s 2018 analysis with West Midlands Women’s Voice found that the West Midlands had a widening gap of 12.4% in the proportion of women and men who were employed. That gap was even greater for Black, Asian and ethnic minority women.

Together, the two organisations have published a West Midlands Women and Girls Manifesto which has been backed by organisations including Anawim Birmingham’s Centre for Women and Women in Theatre.

West Midlands Women’s Voice is hosting the region’s first live mayoral hustings on Friday 5th of March, 11-12am. The hustings is part of West Midlands Women’s Voice International Women’s Day Celebration, which award winning comedian Shappi Khorsandi will be opening at 10am. The following candidates have confirmed they will be taking part in the hustings:

Liam Byrne – Labour
Steve Caudwell – Green
Ashvir Sangha – Independent
Andy Street – Mayor of the West Midlands, Conservative
Jenny Wilkinson – Liberal Democrats

Members of the media are welcome to attend. You can join the event by registering here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celebrating-international-womens-day-2021-tickets-132961652883

To submit a question please email this address: info@wmwv.co.uk

The Mayor of the West Midlands will only be able to effectively deliver their Industrial Strategy if they engage the skills and talents of the women who live there.

Manifesto

The manifesto calls on Mayoral candidates to pledge to:  

  1. Deliver equal representation of women in policy-making across the West Midlands
  2. Increase funding and support for organisations working to end violence against women and girls
  3. Improve women’s access to secure employment
  4. Increase access to mental health support, and
  5. Ensure access to safe, affordable transport across the region.

The full manifesto can be viewed here: https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/west-midlands-mayoral-election-women-and-girls-manifesto

Background  

Full details and registration for the hustings can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celebrating-international-womens-day-2021-tickets-132961652883

The political hustings will be taking place between 11am – 12 noon, Friday 5th March. It is part of a wider West Midlands Women’s Voice International Women’s Day Celebration event. Other speakers include award winning comedian and bestselling author Shappi Khorsandi.

The manifesto was published on 18th February 2021 and was produced and endorsed by:

The Fawcett Society

West Midlands Women’s Voice

Fawcett West Midlands

Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC)
Anawim: Birmingham Women’s Centre
Women and Theatre
The Homeless Period Wolverhampton

Felicia Willow, Interim CEO, The Fawcett Society said:

Three in ten women in the West Midlands say that they are ‘struggling or worse off financially’ because of coronavirus. Coronavirus is worsening existing inequality: women, in particular Black, Asian and ethnic minority women, single mothers, disabled women and young women, are being hit hardest by the social and economic impacts of the virus.

It is vital that the combined authority, which is still majority-male, listen to women and make sure that women in all our diversity are represented at the regions coronavirus recovery decision making table.”

Sharonjit Clare, Co-founder, West Midlands Women’s Voice said:

We endorse the Fawcett Society Manifesto, it rightly highlights those issues that women of the West Midlands have voiced as needing to be addressed by the incoming Mayor. Improving inequality, women’s access to secure employment and leading the way by involving 50% women in policy is surely key to inclusive growth.

During the next Mayoral term the CWG will be an international platform for the West Midlands and the first showcase of UK after Brexit.

It is imperative that the tone of the preparation, the event itself and the legacy is exemplary in levelling up on inclusivity and diversity. Deeds not words a must.”


Joint polling from West Midlands Women’s Voice and The Fawcett Society (2021) https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/news/new-data-shows-coronavirus-impact-on-women-in-greater-manchester-and-west-midlands

The Fawcett Society (2020), Make Devolution work for Women in The West Midlands.  https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/making-devolution-work-for-women-west-midlands-data-report

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