Headlines: July 27th, 2010

Local councillors and other decision-makers are being urged to engage with women’s organisations to provide better support for women in society. A new report says public bodies would make better decisions and communities would get better services if they were informed by the experiences and perspectives of women’s organisations.

‘The Power and Prejudice’ report has been produced by the Women’s Resource Centre and it identifies the barriers it sees women’s organisations facing in creating change on a local level. It also looks at what tools can be used to support local engagement and offers ideas to both public bodies and women’s organisations to improve local services for women.

The report, which is based on 18 months of research, found that although women played an active role in improving their local communities, they remained under-represented in local decision-making. It said women’s organisations had the expertise in meeting local needs and had a lot to offer public bodies.

The barriers identified in the report included local public bodies acting as “blockers” to prevent access to decision-makers, a lack of understanding of the need for women’s organisations, lack of transparency and accountability and a lack of knowledge and confidence in groups about holding public bodies to account.

WRC chief executive Vivienne Hayes said: “Women’s organisations are constantly working to improve the lives of women in their local communities in an efficient and cost effective manner, but all too often they lack the clout to influence
local decision making.”