I’m sure I’m not the only one still smarting from the televised leaders’ debates ahead of the elections.

If we ever needed reminding that it’s time for a rethink on diversity in politics, seeing three white men of a certain age battling it out to lead Wales was not a good advertisement for what parties have done on diversity in politics.

Women comprise 57 per cent of Labour MSs, 38 per cent of Plaid Cymru MSs and 19 per cent of Conservative MSs. However, women’s representation has gone down overall from 49 per cent in the fifth Senedd to 43 per cent now. These are small movements, but they are significant and symbolic.

We risk the figures reducing even further if we don’t take action. So – what are the solutions to getting greater numbers of women of all protected characteristics selected and then elected?

For me, and the 21 organisations signed up to the Diverse 5050 campaign, it’s time to stop tinkering and take decisive positive action. We need to put in place quotas on both gender and diversity – women will not be equal until all women are equal.


Let’s be honest, unofficial quotas have been in place since time immemorial – they are the norms along with the old boys’ network that mostly returns white middle-aged men to represent us in Westminster, in the Senedd, and in local government.

To change it, to sweep away those informal quotas and put in place formal, legally binding ones, would result in a truly diverse Senedd with a strong representation of women of colour, disabled women, and LGBT women, as well as those from different socio-economic backgrounds.

We face a historic moment, with a patent need for electoral reform and an increase in the size of the Senedd firmly on the agenda.

Party manifestos show that we now have a majority of MSs in the Senedd in favour of increasing its diversity.

Plaid has committed to implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Electoral Reform, including gender quotas.

Labour committed to continuing the work of the Senedd Electoral Reform Committee. The Liberal Democrats made the same commitments. Therefore, we now have the supermajority needed for constitutional change under the Wales Act. Given that we have responsibility for our own electoral arrangements, quotas surely fall under our remit.

Let us not waste this opportunity. We need the new Welsh Government’s Programme for Government to include strong action on quotas.

Wales could be a leader and trailblazer, as we have been with the Future Generations Act.

Let us be the first country in the UK to put in place legally binding quotas for diversity. One hundred countries worldwide have some form of gender quotas in place. Forty of these also use quotas for intersectional groups such as women of colour. Let us be the next country to join them.