Harman announces taskforce for a more representative democracy

A new government task force to tackle the lack of BME councillors, particularly ethnic minority women was announced today by Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality. Members of the task force will include existing BME councillors and will be chaired by Baroness Uddin.

Only around 168 out of 20,000 councillors are black, Asian or minority ethnic women. The taskforce will take practical action to address this under-representation, such as provide mentoring, hold outreach events in community centres to make the role of councillors more widely known and better understood, working with organisations such as the Local Government Association, Operation Black Vote and the Fawcett Society to develop awareness training, establish networking groups, conduct research, work with local councils, political parties and organisations like IdeA to improve the recruitment, training and selection and support given to candidates as well as working with others producing guidance and advice

Harriet Harman said:

"Empowering black, Asian and minority ethnic women in public life is a key priority for Government. They are a force for good within their communities, and in building bridges between communities.'

Simon Woolley, Executive Advisor to the Taskforce and Director of OBV, said:

"There is no shortage of talented black and minority ethnic women who, given half a chance, would make excellent councillors and MPs. The challenge, therefore, is to break down barriers whilst encouraging these talented women to come forward. OBV is pleased to be part of this exciting initiative."

The taskforce will last 12 months, with an option to review and take account of some of the recommendations of the independent Councillors Commission (published last December).

The taskforce will identify action to increase awareness and build confidence and skills; reach out into communities to encourage women to step forward to become local councillors; identify and tackle barriers within political parties; and reduce disadvantage and stereotyping from within and outside the communities.

A fact-sheet on BAME women councillors, women in public life, ethnic minority women in the UK and a chronology of key dates in politics are also available on request or on http://www.equalities.gov.uk 

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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