Jane Hutt discusses women in the Welsh Assembly



Jane Hutt talks about how the proportion of women in the National Assembly for Wales has remained constantly high since its creation in 1998, relative to the numbers of women in Welsh local government or in UK national government over the same period of time. You can find out more about the extraordinary breakthrough of women in party politics in Scotland and Wales in Politics and Legislation.

Formation of the National Assembly for Wales

The majority voted ‘yes’ to a referendum on Welsh devolution in 1997, and in 1998 the National Assembly for Wales was created. This meant that key areas of legislative power relating to Wales became the responsibility of an organisation in Cardiff, rather than of central government in London. A National Assembly Advisory Group was set up in 1997 to achieve consensus and make recommendations for the Assembly. This group included five women and a number of women’s organisations who lobbied for family-friendly working practices, gender-neutral titles and term times that coincided with school term times. In the 1999 elections to the National Assembly over 40% of the elected MPs were women, compared to 18% elected women MPs in the House of Commons at the same time. Laws passed in 2006 and 2011 gave further powers to the National Assembly. The 2006 Act also created the Welsh government, an executive body separate from the National Assembly. Today the Welsh government deals with most day-to-day issues, including health, education, transport and local government; UK government still controls areas such as defence and taxation.

Do you think issues such as national liberation and feminism are connected? In what way?

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Jane Hutt Labour Candidate For The Vale Of Glamorgan Seat In The New National Assembly photograph © Getty Images



Wales wasn’t used to having women in key positions of power, but we had four women as ministers. We had a woman finance minister, education, agriculture and then eventually planning and education, finance. Yes, we’ve actually had women in very high profile positions all the way through, with different first ministers. Once the tone was set, you know, it’s women ministers who, it’s sort of become accepted. It’s radically changed political life in Wales, but of course it’s not reflected in, unfortunately in local government, so we still have very few women leaders of local government. But it has, in terms of government of Wales, it’s been radically different having women leading local government
Jane Hutt discusses women in the Welsh Assembly
6 January 2012
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Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
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