THE Llanelli Women’s Co-op Guild hosted a number of speakers for International Women’s Day at the Llanelli Town Hall on Saturday (March 3). Speakers included Lyndsey Maiden, Director of We Dig Media, Michelle Williams of Greener Planet, Jackie Murphy CEO of Tros Gynnal Plant, Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, Syria Sir Gar, Joyce Watson AM and Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary.
Opening the event Nia Griffith spoke about Government cuts, which she said was a big issue that was impacting more on women. Addressing the audience she said:
“Women are more likely to be in low paid jobs, and more likely to need tax credits and there have been massive cuts there. Women are more likely to be working in public sector jobs and those jobs have been slashed phenomenally. It is because the cutbacks in services like in social care , which have impacted far more on women who tend to pick up the tab for that. Women tend to make more use of public services usually on behalf of other members of the family. The impact has been absolutely enormous and we would like to highlight that in the budget this year. The Government has also made very little progress on closing the gender pay gap.”
Speaking to Llanelli Online Joyce Watson AM told us about her work as chair of the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentarian Group. She said:
“I represent Wales on the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. It is a group of women parliamentarians across 180 countries worldwide. Devolution has delivered a voice for Wales within that organisation. Before devolution you had the U.K. occupying that space. What it means is that we learned things we would have never learned at first hand experience. We can also share what we are doing to further the impact on women positively and share those ideas where there is a negative impact and we can make things better for women right across the world. The Welsh Assembly is doing a lot of great work but Rwanda has the best representation of all. They have done that through legislation within their constitutions. We have done it by party rules. There are still places where putting your name on the ballot threatens your life. There are also places where if you dare to vote for a woman it would threaten your life. Those voices are completely lost. I am talking about women’s voices in the world. I am really pleased that I have been chosen by my colleagues across the Mediterranean Region to be their chair and to represent those nine countries. The key issues are economics and where women find themselves in the economy or don’t find themselves in the economy. Ending violence against women in all its forms is absolutely up there as well as women’s representation. Instead of those conversations being in women’s organisations and considered women’s issues. They have now found themselves as mainstream issues and the realisation that they actually affect everybody, every family and I always say, there is no such thing as a woman’s issue.”
The audience then heard from Sophie Howe the Future Generations Commissioner. She gave a self history documenting her rise to her role as commissioner through juggling motherhood and finding herself in male dominated cultures, which she said was largely the case today. She also expressed her concern at the levels of domestic abuse towards women and said that she believed it had become a national epidemic. She said: “The one in four women who experience domestic abuse are just those who come forward.”
Speaking to Llanelli Online after her passionate and thought provoking talk she explained how The Well Being of Future Generations Act worked. She said:
“The Well Being of Future Generations Act has within it seven national well being roles. They are a prosperous Wales a resilient Wales, a healthier Wales, a Wales of cohesive communities, a more equal Wales, a Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language and a globally responsible Wales. All of our 44 main public bodies the government all our health boards our local authorities are required to be maximising their contribution to meeting those national well being goals. My job is to help and support them and challenge them to do that. It is a huge task and I have a relatively small team and small budget. I think if we look at the principles within the act like collaboration there are a huge number of organisations with the expertise and passion and enthusiasm of how to drive this agenda forward. My main aim in the first year has been to identify these people and work out where they can join with me. The legislation doesn’t give me powers to intervene in individual casework so it is more of a strategic level supporting the public bodies and challenging them. I have powers to undertake reviews into particular public bodies and issues. There has been a lot of good work going on here in Llanelli on the Llanelli We Want. That has been community engagement and dialogue rather than only speaking to people when we have a specific question to ask. The community themselves are often far better placed to work out what needs to be done than the policy makers in Government or in county hall. The key is involving those people, collaborating and having those ongoing discussions so we can jointly work out how we are going to create the Wales we want both now and into the future.”
The event was being filmed by two female media students from Cardiff University. Llanelli Online also filmed elements of the event and the interviews with Nia Griffith MP, Joyce Watson AM and Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe.