Guest blog by Ann Jones AM.
The National Assembly for Wales holds an annual event each March to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, and I feel really proud that we’ve committed to taking equality seriously at the Assembly since it was established 20 years ago.
I’m one of the original Assembly Members voted in for the first time in 1999. This has provided me with a good overview of the Assembly and the way it works. I can truly say that it is committed to the principles of #EachforEqual. We have a legal duty to promote equality and it’s become ingrained in our culture to do so, not because we have to, but because we want to.
In 2003, the Assembly achieved international recognition for becoming the first legislature worldwide to achieve gender parity, and in being the first to have more women than men in 2006. We currently have 47 percent women Members and continue to strive for an equal balance.
When I was voted in by my peers for the role of Deputy Presiding Officer in 2016, I saw an opportunity to showcase the work of women. Hosting events like our International Women’s Day celebrations and hearing from such inspiring women always reminds me of why I’m so passionate about promoting and supporting women in politics. It’s not always easy, and this year’s theme #EachforEqual emphasises the importance of equality throughout our society.
It was a pleasure to listen to such inspirational women at our event. Our speakers were Charlie Morgan, co-founder Warrior Women Events; Angel Ezeadum, Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament and Sophie Rae, founder of Ripple Living.
Their talks were incredibly empowering and thought-provoking, and I’m grateful to them for sharing their stories with us. I was also pleased to welcome Betsan Powys to chair the event.
We welcomed a mix of people to the Pierhead and it was a good opportunity to speak to people who might not have engaged with us before. I encourage you to stay in touch. Speak to your Assembly Members about the topics that are important to you. Visit us at the Senedd and you can keep up-to-date on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
As we celebrate 20 years of devolution in Wales, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. With the next Assembly elections being held in 2021, we’ll see for the first time votes extended to 16 an 17 year olds as part of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. I’m so excited about allowing even more of Wales’ population to have their voices heard. We’ll also be changing our name from the National Assembly for Wales to Senedd Cymru, Welsh Parliament as we reflect its ever evolving responsibilities.