Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford has joined with councillors and prospective councillors to celebrate the progress of the Welsh Government’s Diversity in Democracy Programme.
The main aim of the programme is to ensure there is a more diverse range of candidates standing for election to local government.
Currently only 26% of elected representatives on Welsh councils are women and only 2% of elected representatives identify themselves as BME, LGBT and disabled.
Over the last two and a half years the programme has created a mentoring scheme for people from under-represented groups and a publicity programme to raise awareness of what is involved in being a local government councillor.
The mentoring scheme currently has 60 plus councillors and 50 plus mentees signed up, with no less than 20 of these mentees intending to stand for election to various political positions, such as to their community or county council and the local government elections in May 2017 and beyond.
One of the mentees, Ruth Williams, stood for the Women’s Equality Party in June’s elections to the National Assembly of Wales.
“I decided to take part in the Diversity in Democracy Programme as there is a lack of both women and LBT+ people in leadership roles.
“I was partnered with an excellent mentor who’s given me a real insight into local issues, and what’s important to the people of Cardiff. It came at exactly the right time for me and gave me confidence to stand as a candidate in the Assembly elections in May 2016.
“It’s great that the Welsh Government has recognised that diversity in democracy is an important issue and something to be taken seriously and I hope it will inspire a new generation of Councillors.”
The Local Government Secretary said:
“I’m delighted that we’ve had such a positive response to our Diversity in Democracy Programme. It is immensely important that our councils are truly representative of the communities they serve.
“I want to congratulate all involved in the scheme on the progress we have seen over the past two years. We must keep this focus on the lack of diversity in political life, in all its different dimensions.
“We will continue to take steps to address this and use every opportunity to encourage minority groups and women to come forward and take part in political life.”
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