In the run up to the Senedd election, this International Women’s Day we are celebrating the women who campaigned for the right to vote, and sharing the experiences of Women in Welsh Politics.
The Women's Suffrage Movement in Wales
An organised women's suffrage movement operated continuously in Britain for more than sixty years, with partial enfranchisement won in 1918 and equal voting rights with men finally achieved ten years later.
This online gallery aims to provide a snapshot of Wales's part in this lengthy and multifaceted campaign, the photographs and images seeking to illustrate some of its principal elements.
Setting the Record Straight
Setting the Record Straight is a joint project between Women’s Archive Wales and the Senedd.
This project aims to capture the voices and papers of the current and former female Members of the Senedd who have been elected to our national parliament during its first twenty years.
Some of these women have held seats since 1999 and some have held important government posts.
They all have an interesting and personal story to tell which is of great significance to our democratic history and heritage. These stories examine how they became engaged in politics, what difficulties they encountered, their particular political interests, the campaigns they championed and why, amongst other things.
Women have made a huge contribution to the story of devolution in Wales and their records and stories should be preserved for the future.
Watch a selection of interview clips here or visit the Women's Archive Wales website to see all of the clips as the project unfolds.
Women in the Senedd
The Senedd was established in 1999 with the principle of equality of opportunity at its core. The laws and rules that govern the institution specifically require that its work should be conducted “with due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people.”
In 2003, the Senedd became the first legislature in the world to achieve a perfect gender balance, with 30 women and 30 men. While this has dropped in recent years, the proportion of women in the Senedd has never fallen below 40%. Recent reports have recommended that a gender quota should be introduced to guarantee a minimum number of women Members of the Senedd.
Since its creation, the Senedd has continually upheld a far higher proportion of women Members than the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In the most recent elections, 42% of the Senedd’s MSs were women, compared to 34% in the House of Commons. However, due to changes in Members since the last election, currently 48% of Members of the Senedd are women (29 out of 60).
Globally, the average percentage of women in national parliaments is 25%, and if the Senedd was counted as a separate parliament in the world ranking it would be 5th in the world.
The Senedd is due to hold an election in 2021, and close attention will be paid to the gender balance of the parliament.
In 1929, Megan Lloyd George became the first woman MP to be elected to a Welsh constituency. She campaigned for a Welsh parliament and was a leading figure on the Women’s Power Committee, which fought for women’s employment rights during the war. You can learn more about Megan Lloyd George by visiting our devolution timeline in our Virtual tour of the Senedd.
From the campaigns and laws that led to the establishment of the Senedd, to the plans for its reform, equality is deeply rooted in the institution’s culture, rules and future ambitions.