Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Women Shut out of Key Devo Roles, Claims Study

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Women Shut out of Key Devo Roles, Claims Study

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

DEVOLUTION plans are shutting women out of key roles, it has been claimed.

The Northern Powerhouse is supposed to create a more equal society by ensuring the north of England develops a thriving economy to match the success of London.

But it is already failing on one key measure of equality - because women are being left out of key positions, according to a new study.

The Fawcett Society, a charity which campaigns for gender equality, said plans to hand power to elected mayors and combined authorities risk shutting women out of key decisions about regional development. And it called for national and local government, and political parties of all colours, to ensure that the devolution agenda has gender equality and diversity at its heart.

But one North East MP said the research highlighted the pitfalls of the Government's devolution plans.

Newcastle Central Labour MP Chi Onwurah said: "This is not going to help gender equality."

And Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, added: "Devolution certainly must not mean going backwards in terms of gender equality and those taking the key decisions affecting people in the North."

Fawcett Society researchers have identified 20 senior positions who are leading the North East Combined Authority.

And 15 of these, three-quarters are men.

They include council leaders and deputy leaders, and council chief executives.

In the Tees Valley Combined Authority, 11 out of 16 leading figures, around two thirds, are men. Both regions are to elect mayors to chair the Combined Authority in May 2017.

The North East Combined Authority currently includes seven local councils, and six of these are led by men. The exception is North Tyneside, led by mayor Norma Redfearn.

While Gateshead is not planning to be part of the Combined Authority once it is chaired by a mayor, it is part of the existing body.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership, chaired by businessman Andrew Hodgson, is also represented on the Combined Authority's leadership board. …

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