Prosperity for all…unless you’re female

“Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.” The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

In the Summer of 2018 the former First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones, MS, announced his intent to lead a “truly feminist government”.

This bold, ambitious and welcome statement was in response to a report by Chwarae Teg on gender equality in Wales. It was not a pretty read with gender inequality languishing or increasing in most areas of women’s lives.

As a result a rapid review on gender equality was undertaken with over ten recommendations by Chwarae Teg, and the Women’s Equality Network (Wen Wales) and Oxfam Cymru began producing a Feminist Scorecard to track the actions and progress to advance women’s rights in Wales.

Meanwhile, with much fanfare Welsh Government took over the running of the Wales and Borders rail franchise following the establishment of Transport for Wales.

As with all new industrial, male oriented investments there were many announcements including the creation of 600 new jobs, 30 new apprenticeships a year and a commitment to contribute to the seven well-being goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act including A More Equal Wales well-being goal.

It all sounded so promising and refreshing. However, the reality is very different from the warm words for us women two years on.

The Feminist Scorecard 2020 and Chwarae Teg’s State of the Nation 2020 report has revealed that the gender pay gap is increasing in Wales (now 14.5%), women’s health inequalities and outcomes are widening and there has been very little progress in equal representation and leadership in our public sector.

It may not come as a big shock that Transport for Wales Annual Report 2020 reflects a trend in the gender pay gap increasing in Wales (the UK average GPG is 17.3%).

What is shocking is that the new kid on the economic block has a whopping 41.5% gender pay gap.

Furthermore, the majority of senior and middle management roles are held by men, despite the creation of a 104 new catering roles earlier this year which has compounded not rebalanced the figures.

Like Boris Johnson’s man motto “build, build, build”, it seems that here in Wales, “Prosperity for All’ really means “Prosperity for All Men in all the Right Roles”.

Since the publication of all three reports, none have made headline news, why not?

Why are the Unions silent?

There has been no Wales-wide discussions on the abject failure of the Welsh Government and others to close gender inequalities beyond organisations like Chwarae Teg, WEN Wales and Fair Treatment of Women in Wales who work tirelessly, with far less money, support or macho media statements.

Carwyn Jones MS wanted Wales to be the safest place in Europe for women, but as with many good Welsh Government policies delivery is often piece-meal or absent when it comes to creating real cultural change that ensures a more equitable Wales.

Women make up 52% of the population in Wales, so why are we still the second sex?

You can read Transport for Wales Annual Report 2020 here.

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Julie Ann Richards

Radical Feminist, Mam, Cymraes, heart always rules head, Trustee — Fair Treatment of Women in Wales, domestic abuse survivor — views are my own