Act early to make politics attractive
ATTENTION rarely turns to diversity of political representation until we are knee deep in election fever – or the subsequent hangover.
It may be why it is an issue that continues to haunt the States.
Women in Public Life wants that to change, so that moves to encourage more women to stand are made proactively and early by the committees in charge.
Last week it presented ideas to the States' Assembly and Constitution Committee that could help make inroads into the gender inbalance that took a step further back under the first island-wide vote.
What it has put on the table would also work to encourage other under-represented parts of our community to find more of a voice.
There has been little practical action on this issue – it is now time to start.
The group has suggested options that look to address a range of shortcomings.
Some is about demystifying the States and the role of a deputy, such as making debates more accessible through televising them – the technology is there to stream meetings online cost effectively already.
Some is about ensuring that once elected, people feel like there is a support system in place to help them.
The induction process needs to be rounded, not simply procedural, including being able to address some of the negative aspects that may be putting people off, like online abuse.
How this Assembly conducts itself will also have an impact more generally – does it make the States a tolerant place where people feel they can make a difference?
The States has all the resources at hand to ensure that as many people are possible are willing to have their name on the ballot paper, but it has been reluctant in the past to do anything, preferring instead to be largely hands off.
To carry on with that approach risks losing out on talented people who could help make the government a better, more efficient decision-making body.