Government launches Equality Taskforce Pilot Event

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women from across London will take part in the first in a series of Government events, which aim to encourage them to become councillors in local government - ultimately making councils more representative of the communities they serve and enable more informed decision making.

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, recently launched the Taskforce - a working group of 14 current and former councillors from across Britain, each from different ethnic backgrounds and political parties.

The Taskforce is chaired by Baroness Uddin - the first Muslim woman in the House of Lords and a prominent figure in the Black and Asian community. It aims to take practical steps to help women from ethnic minority groups enter public life. The Taskforce members are fully committed to supporting and advising women interested in becoming a local councillor.

The pilot event, being held in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London, is the first in a series of regional events across the country, which aim to raise awareness of the role and benefits of being a local councillor, encourage more Black, Asian and minority ethnic women to consider stepping forward, and providing advice on how to find out more about becoming a local councillor.

Launching the event, Barbara Follett, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality said, "We need our local councils to better reflect society. This is not only because BAME women are vastly underrepresented as local councillors - there are only around 168 across England, when there should be about 1000 - but also because we'll have more informed local decision making if all members of the community are involved.

"Today's event is just one of a number of ways in which the Taskforce will encourage and support minority ethnic women to become a councillor - but it's not just about getting them involved, it's also about making sure they have an ongoing support network and mentoring which this taskforce will provide."

This event is the first of many around the country. A number of other similar free events will take place nationwide. Dates will be announced shortly on

For further information on how to become a councillor women should contact

The taskforce is taking practical action to address under-representation, such as:

* Provide mentoring to women interested in becoming a councillor

* Hold outreach events in communities to make the role of councillors more widely known and better understood

* Work with organisations such as the Local Government Association, Operation Black Vote and the Fawcett Society to develop awareness training and to encourage more women to step forward for roles in public life.

* Establish networking groups

* Support building stronger data on BAME women councillors

* Work with local councils, political parties and organisations like IdeA to improve the recruitment, training and selection and support given to candidates

Ms Harman announced in July last year that increasing representation in public life of Black, Asian and minority ethnic women was one of the Minister for Women's priorities. The other two are: supporting families, particularly as they bring up children and care for older and disabled relatives; and tackling violence against women and improving the way we deal with women who commit crimes.

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