Category: Wales

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015

Black and white image of the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act (Wales) 2015
Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0 (

The Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 (VAW Act) is the first piece of legislation in the United Kingdom to explicitly and specifically address violence against women as opposed to ‘domestic violence’ generally. Following a unanimous vote of the National Assembly for Wales, it became law in Wales on 29 April 2015. The key purpose of the VAW Act is to improve the public sector response in relation to the prevention, protection of victims and support of those affected by acts of gender-based violence, domestic abuse, and sexual violence (section 1).

At the very least, the VAW Act reshaped the way in which public sector in Wales is responding to violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual violence. It made those issues a priority, both for the local government in Wales and for the public sector. It is certainly hoped that, in the long-term, the Act will have a transformative effect on public attitudes towards violence against women.

Olga Jurasz

The VAW Act is significant for women as it sets out practical steps which local government and public sector ought to implement in order to work together to prevent violence against women. Despite a plethora of legislation in England and Wales punishing various forms of violence against women and offering some remedies for victims, thus far there has been little focus on preventative measures within such laws. The VAW Act introduces an important shift in that respect: it focuses on establishing strategic and coherent public sector mechanisms aimed at prevention of and protection from gender-based violence, domestic abuse, and sexual violence in Wales. The Act also aims to strengthen the support available to the victims of gender-based violence, domestic abuse, and sexual violence.

The full version of this landmark is written by Olga Jurasz.

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Welsh Government Llywodraeth Cymru, ‘Violence Against Women and Domestic Abuse’

Welsh Assembly Election 2003

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.

National Assembly for Wales – Welsh National Assembly [CC BY 2.0(]
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’

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)

Equality and Human Rights Commission, ‘International Women’s Day 2012 Update: Who runs Wales? The Journey Towards Gender Equality’

Cyfraith Hywel (the laws of Hywel Dda)

Cyfraith Hywel (the laws of Hywel Dda)

The history of women’s rights in Wales was not forgotten. It lived on through tales and traditions. And, more recently, the legal rights mediaeval Welsh women had and lost have begun to re-emerge.

Carol Howells

Over a thousand years ago, and long before the admission of women into the legal profession in England and Wales, a Welsh prince, Hywel ap Cadwell (known as Hywel Dda), advanced and recognised the rights of women through the codification of existing laws. The legal framework he created became widely known for its wisdom and justice, its respect for freedom and its humanity. In 2015 the Law Society Gazette described him as ‘Britain’s most enlightened lawmaker’.

Digitised Latin book of the Laws of Hywell Dda with an image of a king figure on the page
Digitised Latin book of the Laws of the Hywel Dda from Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales (

The Welsh Assembly and Welsh Government continue to look to the laws of Hywel Dda, and their innovative nature, as they pursue recognition for the role of women, women’s rights and an equality agenda with vigour – including the landmark Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. At the 2015 Global Law Summit held to mark 800 years of the Magna Carta, the then Wales Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, stated:

Hywel Dda was centuries ahead of his time, he was a great innovator and his laws predate Magna Carta by nearly 300 years which is a considerable achievement and something we are proud of. The Global Summit provides us with a great opportunity to highlight the fact that Wales has a very long history of innovation when it comes to the development and delivery of law.

The full version of this landmark is written by Carol Howells


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A Latin text of the Laws of Hywel Dda is available to read on the National Library of Wales website


Find out more about the Women’s Legal Landmarks Project

Project leaders, Rosemary Auchmuty and Erika Rackley, talk to Elizabeth Woodcraft about the aims, methodology and ambitions for the Project for PodAcademy

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The landmarks that appear on this website were chosen by participants in the Women’s Legal Landmarks Project.

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