As we at the Welsh Conservatives celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re exploring the variety of roles held within the party by our excellent female members.
We’re proud to have three elected Assembly Members: Suzy Davies, Janet Finch Saunders and Angela Burns, who hold key shadow ministerial positions.
Women make up large numbers of the workforce here at the Welsh Conservatives, from public figures in the Assembly, to community, county and city councillors, like Cardiff’s Jayne Cowan who started with the party when she was 14, and the capital’s Lord Mayor Dianne Rees.
“My own constituency boasts a proud history of pioneering women’s rights,” says AM Janet Finch-Saunders.
“In 1907, the first branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was formed here in Llandudno’s Cocoa House.
“I am reflecting today on the positive impact of increased rights for women across Wales, one which I hope will continue to benefit us all in the future”.
Hardworking support staff, like group researcher Georgina Webb, work tirelessly behind the scenes in the party.
Speaking about her role, Georgina said: “I’ve worked in politics on and off for about 14 years now, and three of those have been spent providing support for the Welsh Conservative Group in the National Assembly for Wales. I have a legal background, with an undergraduate law degree, Masters Degree in Commercial Law and I’m about to graduate as a Doctor of Philosophy in Financial Crime.
“My role as Group Researcher is varied, including researching policy, meeting with stakeholders, tabling questions and writing briefings for Assembly Members. I have also had the privilege of working on five Welsh Bills so far, and this role has given me a huge opportunity to scrutinise statutes from the very beginning.”
These are just a small selection of the hard-working, intelligent women who make up an increasingly large number of the main Welsh opposition party today, but the Welsh Conservative Party is always looking for more women to come forward to join us.
Cardiff City Council’s Jayne Cowan joined the party at just 14 years old. She said:
“I’ve been involved in politics for more than 20 years, and I’m proud to have taken on the many opportunities on offer to me during this time.
“As well as sitting as the youngest deputy mayor ever in Cardiff, I’m proudest of my work as chairperson of the board of governors for Greenhill Special School in Rhiwbina.
“I co-founded the Cardiff North group at the age of 14, and I’m happy to say that I’ve never felt as though I’ve faced hurdles in the party because of my gender. It’s so important to encourage more women into politics, and there need to be equal opportunities for everyone.
“I’d definitely encourage anyone to stand for their local seat. You don’t have to take on the world to help people in your local area, often it’s just the little things that make the biggest difference to someone.”
Sadly, Labour are yet to step up and elect a female leader, but, more than 44 years since the Conservative Party was first led by a female voice, Theresa May continues to fight for women’s rights, including co-founding Women2Win to encourage women to take part in politics.
Almost a year ago, the Prime Minister visited Wales to launch the successful group, Women2Win Wales. She said: “We should remember the women who got us here, and the debt we owe them. The best way we can do that, is by encouraging more women into public life.”
The UK Conservative Party has today also announced plans to boost the number of female entrepreneurs, to build a country where all women can go as far as their talents and hard work can take them.
Welsh Conservatives are currently looking for candidates to stand up to Welsh Labour and be part of our party for the next Assembly election in two years’ time. So if you would like to join Suzy, Angela and Janet and be part of a party for change in Wales, register your interest here.
Suzy Davies AM speaks about her experience as an Assembly Member:
“No two weeks as an Assembly Member are ever the same.
“This week, in my role as Shadow Education Minister I met teachers to find out first-hand the effects that Welsh Government and council decisions are having on our schools budgets. I then had hard evidence on which to ask the Finance Minister about changes to the schools funding system.
“I’ve also been scrutinising mounds of Brexit legislation and an important new statutory Code to help children and young people with additional learning needs. With skills and international relations – cultural and economic - being so important post-Brexit, I’ve also met representatives from Oklahoma, Palestine as well as universities here in Wales, looking for ideas to benefit my constituents. I also have some very sensitive casework to deal with.
“I am proud to have worked with organisations like the Women’s Equality Network and Chwarae Teg to mentor and help women of all ages who are interested in getting involved in public life. I’m meeting my new BAME mentee, from my region, again at the end of this week.
“It’s important that I share my experience as an AM with other women. We need to show, not just say, that politicians need to come from a whole range of ages, views, backgrounds and lived experiences to make the most relevant policies for a better life in Wales.
“This Sunday I am looking forward to chairing a Women in Science panel discussion as part of the WEN’s International Women’s Day celebrations at Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum.
“No two weeks as an Assembly Member are ever the same – but every week you learn something new.”