Deputy Aldwell said recently that she ‘would not encourage any woman to enter the States’ because of what she saw as prejudice against women from outside the Assembly, in particular in the media.
Several other women in politics said yesterday that Deputy Aldwell’s advice was unhelpful and could be counter-productive.
‘I can’t see how fewer women entering politics would do anything to help improve the situation. In fact, I suspect it would be likely to make misogynistic attitudes worse,’ said Lindsay de Sausmarez.
‘To my mind, dissuading women from standing is just accommodating and entrenching the problem rather than addressing it.'
Podcast: Deputy Sue Aldwell and Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller are the guests on the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast
‘I often urge women – and younger people, and people from a wide range of different backgrounds – to consider standing, quite simply because in a representative democracy a parliament should broadly reflect the community it serves.’
Deputy de Sausmarez drew an analogy with racist abuse in the workplace and said the answer to that would not be to discourage ethnic minorities from applying for jobs.
Yvonne Burford was ‘disappointed’ with Deputy Aldwell’s comment, which was made in a letter to the Guernsey Press.
‘I take the opposing view. I strongly encourage women with an interest in the community, politics and island life to consider putting themselves forward at the next election,’ she said.
There are currently only eight women deputies – exactly 20% of the Assembly. There were 12 in the previous States.
Former Policy & Resources vice-president Deputy Heidi Soulsby was concerned that Deputy Aldwell’s recommendation would only encourage a trend of decline in women in the States.
‘I have to say I totally disagree and do not understand the logic of her argument,’ she said.
‘In the same piece she said she believes it is a man’s world, but it would appear she is happy to make it more so by discouraging women from standing. I struggle to see how that will make anything better.
‘I’d absolutely encourage more women to stand and I’m very happy to discuss with them why they should.
‘The fewer women in the States, the less issues affecting them will be given the weight they deserve, so we need more women, not fewer.’
In her letter, Deputy Aldwell said that most women probably felt they needed to work twice as hard as men to prove their worth and that the experience of female politicians was not helped by ‘corrosive’ and ‘undermining’ media commentary.
Two of Deputy Aldwell’s female colleagues – Sasha Kazantseva-Miller and Andrea Dudley-Owen – understood why she felt that way and chose to share her view publicly. But they disagreed with her advice to women to steer clear of the States.
‘I think there has never been a better time than now for women to enter into politics,’ said Deputy Kazantseva-Miller.
‘I would like to encourage anyone – female or male – to enter local politics. I love my job. It is not easy, but it is rewarding to serve the community,’ said Deputy Dudley-Owen.