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Centre for Women & Democracy E-Newsletter - Elections 2009/Women Ministers/New News Blog

Here is the latest newsletter from The Centre for Women and Democracy. To view it as a web page click here. See back issues here. Many thanks to Nan Sloane, Director of CFWD, for permission to re-publish.

Elections 2009
Now that the results of the 2009 local, mayoral and European elections are all in, we are busy collating and analysing them to see how women candidates did. Our conclusions will be published in parts over the course of the next few weeks, but it’s already clear that, in local government terms at least, the picture is not good. We have already completed a provisional analysis of results in the new ‘super-unitary’ authorities, which you can download here. In July, we will also be producing the third edition of our report on women in leadership roles in local government; it will be interesting to see what effect recent changes have had there, too.

Women in Cabinets
There has been much discussion about women in government following the Prime Minister’s recent reshuffle, so we thought it might be interesting to take a look at what the position is in comparable countries as well as in the UK. Here, the new cabinet has 4 women (17%), although a further 3 ‘attend’. The Conservative Shadow Cabinet is 21% female, and the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet has 13% women. Elsewhere in Europe, (and leaving aside Scandinavia where the higher level of women in parliaments leads to generally higher levels of women in government), percentages vary from Spain (50%), Germany (44%), France (42%) and Austria (36%) through Italy (23%) and the Netherlands (22%) and Ireland (20%) to ... well, the UK with 17% and Greece and Portugal with 12%. In Australia the figure is 25%, in Canada 21% and in the United States 32%. In Europe generally the trend over recent years has been upwards, but in both the UK (where it has fallen from a high of 30% in 2001) and the US (where President Clinton’s cabinet was 37% women), women have been less rather than more likely to be cabinet members in recent years. We think all the UK parties could do better, and look forward to seeing them do so.

Fed up with the bias towards men in the news? So is Alison Clarke, is why she has just set up a not-for-profit online news and current affairs service aimed at women – The aim of the site is to provide up to date news on all the major national and international stories of the day in much the same way as any newspaper or online news service, but from the perspective of women. It also covers stories about women that other news outlets ignore (such as maternal health, violence against women and so on) as well as pinion and comment pieces on major news items of the day.

Alison is now looking for women who are interested in writing for the blog (although she can’t afford to pay), so if you have any news stories for publication, just go to to get in touch. She is also looking for people to support the blog by reading it as often as possible and by telling as many other potential readers and writers about it as well ... so we thought we’d do our bit!

And Finally ...
First something a little different – the story in the Times of Mary Ward, a seventeenth century Yorkshire nun who had a vision of equality for men and women (including nuns acting in plays, a scandalous idea for the age) and who was imprisoned by the Pope, but who is now about to be declared ‘Venerable’ by the Vatican, and may ultimately be made a saint.

And lastly (and only if you don’t mind a little racy language) Charlie Brooker in the Guardian says that until women understand the depth of men's simplicity the world is doomed. If you found some of the rest of this newsletter depressing, read this article – if nothing else it will make you laugh!

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