As part of the Welsh Government’s Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Scheme, young parents from Plant Dewi have been taking part in a raft of activities to celebrate the role of women in Welsh politics.
Last week they participated in a National Assembly for Wales education workshop that looked at the history of women’s suffrage in Wales, why it’s important for women have a strong voice in politics and how the National Assembly bucks the trend with its high proportion of female representatives.
Despite the huge improvements made to women’s lives over the past 100 years, the young parents agreed that there was still some way to go in the drive for equality, and that young women especially, should become more involved in the political process.
‘People misjudge us,” explained Daisy, Cloe, Tarja, Emma and Jordaan, members of Plant Dewi’s Ammanford hub. “Because we’re young parents, they think we’re scroungers – when really all we want to do is make a better life for our children.”
At the end of the session they put together their own manifesto as young parents, suggesting changes in a number of areas:
– Parents with very young children should have access to disabled toilets, so that they can bring small children inside the cubicle with them, rather than leaving them and their pushchair outside.
– There should be a publicity campaign to normalise breast-feeding in public places to remove the stigma that still exists.
– There should be more generous childcare subsidies for mothers who want to work. At the moment getting a job can result in many of them becoming worse off financially than they were on benefits.
– Family checks made by social services should be of a higher quality, and complaints should be taken more seriously.
– Better funding for healthcare in Wales.
– Scrap the tax on sanitary protection.
– Lower the age of smear tests to 16.
– At the moment there is too much focus on academic success. Pupils in Wales should learn more about life skills and money management.
– Politics should become a compulsory subject in Welsh schools.
– Improved training for school cooks in order to make school dinners, which tend to be very healthy, more palatable to young people.
– More help should be provided for young mums wanting to further their education or go to work.
– Special badges should be displayed for parent and child parking spaces. Those who park in them without a badge should receive the same penalty as people who abuse disabled bays.
– Safety on buses should be improved by introducing straps to secure buggies and pushchairs.
– Restore the Aberystwyth – Carmarthen train line.
– More help with public transport costs should be given to young parents with children. A family bus pass would be ideal.
– Free swimming for children up to the age of 7-8 and their parents.
– Gym discounts should be given to low income parents. Exercise combats depression and this could save the NHS a considerable amount of money in the long-run.
– Crèche facilities should be provided at gyms.
The workshop ended with several of the young mums drawing a parallel between the world of politics and consumer products, intended for women but designed by men –
“We need women in politics to take women’s problems into consideration and do something about them,” they stated. “Without that, we’re no better off than the women who were campaigning for the vote over a hundred years ago.”