Women Locked in Days of Lloyd George - Report; SHOCKING FINDINGS OVER WELSH GENDER INEQUALITY Welsh Women Facing Struggle to Achieve Full Gender Equality

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Byline: GRAHAM HENRY Senedd Correspondent graham.henry@walesonline.co.uk

THE levels of female representation in some areas of Welsh life have remained unchanged since the days of Lloyd George, a damning report has concluded.

The findings of a report by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) in Wales, seen by the Western Mail, warn that Wales is "falling backwards" in levels of women in public life, warning that women "are still being systematically locked out of power". The Welsh Power Report - published on International Women's Day - assesses the levels of women across politics and public life, and sounds a warning that numbers of women representing Wales are declining across Westminster and the National Assembly.

It claims that at the current "snail's pace" of change, equality will not be achieved in Welsh councils for a staggering 63 years. It highlights six organisations for having particularly poor levels of representation, with a minimum benchmark of 30% of senior positions occupied by > women. Anglesey council has just two female councillors, just 14% of local NHS health boards chairs are women, and less than one i five of civil servants in the Welsh Government's business department are female. Just 9% of council leaders are women. The other organisation pointed out by the - report for their low levels of female representation are Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel, Snowdonia National Park, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. The ERS pointed out that Welsh women are more likely to become Prime Minister of Australia than be elected to Westminster for either Plaid Cymru or the Welsh Conservatives - neither of which have ever elected a woman MP. Barry-born Julia Gillard is the current Australian PM. Stephen Brooks, director of the ERS in Wales, said: "It's nearly a century since women won the right to vote, yet the level of women's representation in some parts of Welsh public life remains unchanged from the time of Lloyd George.

"As the ERS report highlights, women "are still being systematically locked out of power". Whether it's jobs, the NHS or school standards, Wales faces a massive set of challenges. "We need all hands on deck and cannot as a country afford to exclude people on the basis of their gender. "Political parties in particular need to look at how they bring on the next generation of talented women. "Different parties will have different methods, but all four party leaders should make a public commitment today that they will re-double their efforts ahead of the next election". > FROM PAGE 1 It comes after growing calls from the Assembly and Welsh Government to arrest an alarming decline in the numbers of elected women. Equalities Minister Jane Hutt this week challenged public bodies to tackle the chronic under-representation of women on public bodies. The Welsh Government committed to ensure at least 40% of appointments to public roles in Wales are women.

AllWelsh ministers have written to all public-sector bodies asking them to take action to increase the number of women and other under-represented groups on boards. She said: "There is growing evidence that the number of women taking up public or political roles is reducing. "The Welsh Government is committed to reversing this trend, but we all have a role to play in increasing women's representation in public appointments - from public sector bodies to political parties and the media." EQUALITY organisations, women's leaders and politicians have all called for action to tackle the slow withdrawal of women from public life in light of today's study. Laura McAllister, the chair of SportWales, which was held up as an example of promotion of equal opportunities by Ms Hutt, said that "virtually everything" needed to change to reverse the trend.

"If I am brutally honest, virtually everything needs to change if we are to get more women into public life," she said. "Strategically, the whole approach to what defines a characteristic of a leader is the best place to start. …