Today I took part in the Welsh Women’s Summit as part of the Women Making a Difference organisation. A programme of discussions had been organised to bring the community together and have their say. Proposals were put to the panel which consisted of Mrs Uzo Iwobi MBE; Chief Executive of Race Council Cymru, Maria Battle; Chair of Cardiff and the Vale Health Board, Liza Kellet; Chief Executive of the community Foundation in Wales and Lizz Roe; Director of WEN Wales. The discussions round the tables varied from how do we reconnect people with the voting system, the representation of women in the media, women’s health taboos to how we can encourage harmony in a culturally diverse society. Problems and solutions were discussed and presented to the panel where they gave in depth responses and individually intend to take the proposals to the necessary areas and make a difference to society.
The room was filled with women of all ages, nationalities, backgrounds and interests. But sadly, only one man. I’m not sure whether this is due to the way the event was publised, maybe seeming as involving women only? Or whether it is due to lack of interest of social stigma of being a male feminist.
The discussion leaders, facilitators and panel were incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their areas of interest and work. My tables discussed how we could reconnect voters. I was completely unaware of the systems that are in place within Wales that invite interaction and opinion of the public; a petition here only needs 10 signatures in comparisson to the 10,000 needed in Britain. There are organsiations set up by the Welsh Assembly that visit schools to hold talks and workshops and an organisation called Funky Dragon which is particulary interested in engaging young people. Although, sadly, cuts are affecting these areas.
My afternoon session discussed the Paula Principle and the problem of the pay gap between women and men slipping backwards and questioning why women have a tendancy to work at a level below their competancy. The issues of child care and discrimination, and gender stereotyping within society were heavily linked as well as the lack of mentoring and the way working structures and vertical networking mostly benefit men. The panel discussed the invaluble worth of a good mentor. Although the discussions were seperated into tables, a lot of the issues crossed over.