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Welsh Government seeks to get more women on public bodies

The Welsh Government is pressing ahead with plans to get more women appointed to public bodies with an event today bringing together chairs of public sector organisations from across the country.

They are meeting communities minister Jeff Cuthbert to discuss the steps that could be taken to increase the number of women, and other under-represented groups, on their boards.

If ‘non-legislative’ methods fail, the Government could consider imposing quotas, it says.

Ahead of the meeting in Cardiff, Cuthbert said: “Unfortunately, women and some parts of our society continue to be under-represented in public appointments in Wales and there is even evidence that the trend is going in the wrong direction. For our public bodies to truly represent the society they serve, this is something we must work together to address.

“There is no easy answer and we have to take a number of measures, from encouraging people to apply, through to raising awareness of opportunities. We have written to the Chairs of all public bodies asking them to take action and this event is an opportunity to work out what we do next.

“We have a commitment that at least 40% of appointments to public appointments in Wales are women. The Welsh Government is exploring all options for increasing the numbers of women on public sector boards, but non-legislative methods need to be given an opportunity to work first before turning to imposing quotas through legislation.”

The organisations concerned include everything from sports bodies and arts organisations to health boards, the Welsh Government said.

Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales, will also be addressing the seminar. She said: “At Sport Wales we have been successful in attracting high quality female members to our board because we have been entirely proactive in how we look for candidates and provide them with real opportunities to join our work. Sport is essentially based on the talent of the individual to achieve success and it’s that talent we have focussed on.

“The days of tokenism should be banished to the past and, as public leaders, we have a duty and responsibility to try different solutions and ensure we get the representative skills balance that both males and females can provide.

“The Welsh Government is taking a proactive view of this work and this event is another positive step forward.”

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