It is right that we commemorate 100 years since women were first given the vote and the progress made by society towards achieving gender equality, but we must acknowledge the slow pace of progress and how far we still have to go.
100 years ago the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave the vote to women over 30 who either owned property or were married to someone who did. It was not until 1928 that women gained the right to vote on the same basis as men.
The past 100 years have seen the first female MP, the first Welsh female MP, two female Prime Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales becoming the first law-making body in the world to have an equal balance between women and men in 2003.
However, female representation in the National Assembly for Wales has since slipped to 42%. Women in politics face intolerable abuse, whilst the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the revelations that followed highlights how endemic sexual harassment remains within politics and wider society.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
100 years on, it is right we celebrate women first being given the vote and pay tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of the women who made it happen. Their work ended an incredible injustice and has had an immeasurably positive impact on British society. I and every female politician across the UK stands on the shoulders of giants.
“Wales has made huge progress over the past 100 years, from the first Welsh female MP in Megan Lloyd George in 1929 to becoming the first legislature in the world to have equal representation of male and females. Wales has been blessed with incredibly talented female MPs and AMs from across the parties, but there is no room for complacency. Wales is yet to have a female First Minister, female representation in the National Assembly for Wales has slipped in recent elections and only 11 of Wales’ MPs are women.
We must be careful about how politics is viewed by women and other disadvantaged groups including ethnic minorities, the LGBT community and those with disabilities. From the macho culture of much of our politics to the disgusting abuse directed at many politicians, too often Welsh politics is not welcoming enough. If we want to attract the talented and diverse politicians Wales needs, we have to create a political culture that everyone wants to be a part of.