Women’s Archive of Wales and the National Assembly for Wales have today announced that they are collaborating on a new project called Setting the Record Straight to safeguard the records and voices of women in Welsh politics. The Archive has received grant from Heritage Lottery Wales and the Commission to fund the work.
2019-20 is a significant milestone in the history of the National Assembly for Wales, as it celebrates 20 years since it was established in 1999. From the very beginning the Assembly has exceeded the proportion of women among its members compared with other similar legislative Assemblies and Parliaments in Britain and internationally. Following the Assembly elections of 2003 the National Assembly for Wales achieved the status as the first legislature to achieve a 50:50 gender balance - an event of international significance.
Setting the Record Straight will gather the experiences of the 60 plus women Assembly Members (AMs) who have served Wales in the institution since 1999. A wealth of primary evidence has accumulated in the records and testimonies of those closely involved in the first decades of devolution. Of the 62 female AMs who have served, 19 have retired, 12 have lost their seats, two have resigned and one has died, and 28 are currently serving.
Very few of Wales’ female politicians, to date, have deposited their material collections of documents, photographs and papers for safeguarding for the future in recommended repositories. There will also be recorded oral history interviews with all these women AMs to find out more about their backgrounds, how they became engaged in politics, what difficulties they encountered, and their particular political interests.
Catrin Stevens, Chair of Women’s Archive of Wales says, “These female democratic representatives have made a huge contribution to the political history of devolution in Wales - their records and stories must be preserved for the future. It will be the Archive’s privilege to contribute to celebrating this record by safeguarding this important historical archive.”
Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, Elin Jones AM says, “It’s vital that the contribution of women in Welsh politics is collected on record so that we - men, women, old and young - can learn from their experiences. Twenty years since the Assembly was established, our parliament has a great reputation for supporting women and are extremely proud that in 2003 we were the first legislature to achieve a 50:50 gender balance. I hope that future generations will be inspired to engage in politics based on the richness of this archive.”