A call for more women in power
A NEW network has been launched in Guernsey to try to close the gender gap in public life, which is said to be ignoring a pool of talent and stifling the female voice.
The group, called Women in Public Life, wants to inspire more women to stand for positions of power, like deputy, douzenier and jurat.
While women have cracked glass ceilings in the local business world, it is mainly men who run the island.
Women make up only 32% of deputies, 20% of douzeniers and 25% of jurats.
The chair of Women in Public Life, Shelaine Green, said the full potential of half of the island’s population was not being realised.
‘A fundamental problem is that not enough women come forward in the first place, and that means that Guernsey is missing out on talent, it’s missing out on women’s life experience, and women themselves are not having their voices fully heard when Guernsey is making important decisions.’
The network aims to take meaningful action towards gender equality with a range of practical support to promote female participation.
Strong male traditions and male networks mean that many men follow a path into public office, and one barrier to women standing is thought to be a lack of knowledge about the different opportunities.
To overcome this, the group has created a website which explains in detail 15 different public roles, including non-voting member on a States committee, business adviser to a States Trading Asset, and various tribunal and panel posts.
Recruiters to these posts were interviewed to draw up as much information as possible, even the time commitment and the training provided.
The roles are then brought to life by video interviews with women who are already in public office in Guernsey, to provide inspiration.
The website also highlights current vacancies and users can sign up to a mailing list so that new vacancies are sent directly to their email.
Today’s launch comes in the run-up to the general election, but the group stressed that it is not a political party and it would not be fielding candidates.
Instead it will be encouraging women of all political views to stand.
Aware that any measures that support women could be criticised as discriminatory against men, Ms Green clarified that they were not seeking quotas.
‘I think something I need to be really clear about is that we’re just looking to increase the number of women in the candidate pool, we’re not doing anything to influence the actual election or appointment process, anybody who stands for public office has to be the best person for the job.’
Part of the group are key island players like Deputy Rhian Tooley, former deputy Richard Conder, Douzenier Zoe Lihou and business adviser to Guernsey Ports Sasha Kazantseva-Miller.
Women in Public Life’s first event, which has been sponsored by Northern Trust, will be held on Wednesday 22 January at Les Cotils.
It is described as a networking event where women who are interested in public office can explore their options by talking to women who have already taken on a role and the people who recruited them.
The website is at www.womeninpubliclife.gg