Guernsey Press

Sacc told to encourage more women into politics

THE STATES committee in charge of elections has been urged to start taking steps which will encourage more women candidates in the island’s next general election.

The chair of Women in Public Life, Shelaine Green, said there was a lot that could be done to demystify the States, starting straight away. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29399395)

At its meeting on Thursday the States Assembly & Constitution Committee heard a presentation from the group Women in Public Life, which aims to inspire more women to stand for public roles, such as deputy, douzenier and jurat.

Lots of ideas were put forward in the meeting on how to promote female participation. These ranged from televising States debates, offering better training to new deputies, including how to deal with social media abuse, giving clearer information about the role, organising tours of the Chamber, and harnessing the power of the government communications department.

The chair of Women in Public Life, Shelaine Green, said there was a lot that could be done to demystify the States, starting straight away.

One of her key messages was that waiting to take action until three months before the election would not work.

‘The States has a brilliant communications team, we’ve all seen it used to perfection throughout the pandemic etc. So imagine that voice saying to the whole of the island that we want a representative States, please think about coming forward.That power is amazing.

‘We talked about all the different levels of training, from the basics of demystifying the States, right the way through to how the induction programme should work, and how that should be a continuous thread and not something that chops and changes.

‘And we also looked at Jersey because Jersey’s election is next year. We can watch what they do and not have to reinvent the wheel.’

An independent report into Guernsey’s general election last year made 12 recommendations, including one that noted an absence of special measures to promote the participation of women.

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In short, the election observers thought it was a government responsibility to encourage better representation.

Analysts and commentators who have chewed over the results of the last six Guernsey general elections have spotted an interesting trend.

The data from those six elections shows that overall the Guernsey electorate has no bias against women because women candidates were just as likely to be successful as their male counterparts.

In 2020, there were 28 women candidates and 8 were elected. And there were 90 male candidates and 30 were successful.

When Women in Public Life was set up in January 2020, it thought it would mainly appeal just to women, but in fact a lot of men have also said that they have found the comprehensive website and resources very useful.

It has revealed a general interest, and not just a gendered one.

The group wants to get more diversity as a whole into the pipeline of candidates, or what it calls the ‘candidate funnel’.

It was acknowledged that often the reasons that discourage women from standing are cultural.

Women are still likely to bear the majority of responsibility for childcare, and they have a tendency to think they must be perfect, and they underestimate their own skills and overestimate the skills required.

Guernsey’s general election of 2024 might seem a long way away, but the message to SACC was clear - if you want to get more women deputies in the Assembly you need to continue to change.