Welsh Assembly Election 2003

A landmark may mean different things. It may be something unique in an otherwise uninspiring landscape. Or it may be an indicator that from here on in the terrain changes. Let it be hoped that 2 May 2003 is an example of the latter

Catrin Fflur Huws

On 2 May 2003, the National Assembly for Wales became the first legislative body in the world to have an equal number of men and women returned as Assembly Members.

A number of factors contributed to this result. First, the National Assembly for Wales was created at a time when increasing the proportion of women in Parliament was high on the Labour Party’s agenda and the political climate was encouraging for women. Second, as new institution the National Assembly for Wales was not fighting entrenched attitudes. Finally, it had size on its side. 50 per cent of 60 is, perhaps a more achievable target than 50 per cent of 650 Westminster MPs.

Since 2003, the proportion of women Assembly Members has remained consistently high – 47 per cent in 2007, 43 per cent in 2011 and 42 per cent in 2016. It is also significant that in all three of these elections, the near-equality of representation was achieved, not through the use of the regional list process, but rather, with women standing as constituency candidates in their own right.

The full version of this landmark is written by Catrin Fflur Huws.

Learn More

BBC News, ‘Largest Number of Welsh Female MPs Elected’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40218112

Owen Holzinger, Helen Jones and David Millett, ‘Assembly Election 2016: Women’s Political Representation’ (In Brief: the National assembly for Wales Research Service Blog, 27 May 2016) https://assemblyinbrief.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/assembly-election-2016-womens-political-representation/

Equality and Human Rights Commission, ‘International Women’s Day 2012 Update: Who runs Wales? The Journey Towards Gender Equality’ https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/wrw2012_update.pdf