British government seeks more ethnic minority women in public life

November 4th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 4 (IANS) Minister for women and equalities Harriet Harman says Britain needs more Black, Asian and other minority ethnic women councillors after new data showed their numbers have fallen.Only 149 out of 19,617 elected councillors across England are minority ethnic women this year, compared with 164 in 2006.

This represents less than one per cent of all councillors, although minority ethnic women make up more than five percent of the population. To fully reflect society the number of female minority ethnic councillors would have to rise nearer to 1,000.

Harman hosted an event in the House of Commons - the lower house of parliament - Monday for over 100 women from across Britain to encourage more ethnic minority women to enter public life.

She said: “Our local democracy needs to be fully representative, but it’s not. It lacks the voice of Black and Asian women at a local level.

“For local government to make the right decisions it must be representative of, and rooted in, its local communities. Black and Asian women are the missing voice in our local democracy.

“Our local councils need to understand the different communities that make up diverse modern Britain. You get better-informed decision-making when all members of the community are involved.”

The minister referred to the launch of a task force this May to address this under-representation.

It is chaired by Baroness Paula Uddin, the first female Muslim member of the unelected upper chamber of parliament, who said: “I believe women are uniquely positioned to find solutions to the challenges that face all our communities and without their presence our democratic institutions are less credible.”

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