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All-male cabinet in Liverpool told to relinquish their seats for women

Men in the Liverpool Cabinet have received a letter from the group Women in Merseyside, asking them to give up their seats, and nominate female replacements. The women’s leadership group, which seeks to challenge the lack of diversity in decision making, said in an open letter, that they are appalled to find the cabinet made up entirely of men.

Elected mayor, Steve Rotherham, along with the body who votes on key decisions of Liverpool City Region said that the letter read that ‘as feminists and believers of equality in 2017, the group did not expect to be asking any men to give up their seats’, but that is in fact what they are asking now.

Mr Rotherham stated that it is a parliamentary order, which sets out the combined authority’s constitution, and this is very clearly an obstacle towards achieving gender equality. Women in the region make up 51% of the population so should be present at the table when decisions shaping the region are made. Mr Rotherham felt that the six, white, middle-aged men could not truly represent the region, with the immense amount of diversity in the region.

Ms Tabitha Morton, a member of the WLG said that she agreed with Mr Rotherham that six white men could not represent the region. Ms Morton ran against Mr Rotherham in the Mayoral elections in May. She stated that any policy making in any region must consider the different impacts on both women and men in the different communities within the city regions. These decisions must be at the heart of everything the city does.

The group Women in Merseyside pointed out that greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham had since changed his combined authority’s constitution, to include both men and women at meetings. Out of every ten council leaders on the Greater Manchester Council, just one is a woman. Nine men had already agreed to appoint ladies as assistant leads.

Mr Rotherham said that the fact that the current constitution is set in a parliamentary order is clearly an obstacle, and it is within these constraints that he has tried to enhance the balance of gender equality. He has since appointed Ms Jane Kennedy as Police and Crime Commissioner, and appointed seven mayoral advisors, of whom six are women.

At pains to explain why he could not ask men to give up their seats, Mr Rotherham went on to say that the group’s proposal for women appointments instead of men, was a matter for the six councils to decide on. The six councils constitute the regional council and they would make the decision. Mr Rotherham said that their democratic processes should be respected, although he went on to say that as a body, they needed to agree collectively on how the constitution could be revised, in order to achieve gender balance.

A wider review of local government practise is needed to ensure that there are more talented women in positions of influence and leadership.


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