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Internationally-renowned equalities campaigner to give keynote address at National Assembly conference

A leading international figure in the field of equalities will deliver an address at the National Assembly for Wales’s Women in Public Life Conference, on 22 November.

Zarin Hainsworth, who has campaigned for women’s rights across the world, will bring the conference to a close with a keynote address.

Mrs Hainsworth is a former President of UNIFEM UK (United Nations Development Fund for Women) and past Chair of NAWO (National Alliance of Women's Organisations), and has worked with businesswomen from Tanzania, Uganda and Iraq.

"Women the world over are able and have much to offer from their experience in the community, yet they don't put themselves forward for public office,” Mrs Hainsworth said.

“Public appointment systems need to recognise the vast experience and ability that could be used in public service, but that is never utilised, Mechanisms need to be established and supported to ensure that the appointment system encourages women to apply and then stay in post. Our society would be the better for it."

"Conferences like this offer a tremendous opportunity to learn from each other. By hearing about what works well elsewhere, we can see what applies well in Wales and benefit therefrom. It is always a fantastic energy boost to meet activist women from all walks of life and learn from them. I'm really looking forward to it."

The session with Mrs Hainsworth will take place in the National Assembly’s Siambr Hywel at 15.30 on 22 November.

It will be the final session in a series of seminars throughout the day, which will include one to be chaired by Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sports Wales, asking whether society should do more to encourage women’s participation in public life.

Panelists will include Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House, Stephen Brooks from the Electoral Reform Society, and Norma Jarboe who founded the charity Women Count.

A session looking at the portrayal of women in the media will be chaired by Welsh writer and broadcaster, Carolyn Hitt, while BBC Wales’s Political Editor, Betsan Powys will lead an open session where delegates will be able to quiz a panel of leading women from Welsh public life.

“Over the past eight months I have been listening to the views of women in all five electoral regions of Wales,” said Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM.

“Although we have made huge strides in terms of women’s participation in public life over the past decade or so, it is clear from these sessions that a lot of work still needs to be done in encouraging women’s involvement. .

“Women are not better than men but they are very different, and can therefore bring a different and hugely important perspective to public life that is often being missed.

“Many women have told me that there are still issues surrounding confidence, balancing home and work life, perception of women in public life and how they are portrayed in the media.

“That is why one of my first actions as Presiding Officer was to initiate a national conversation on this issue, and I hope that this day-long discussion forum, which I will be hosting at the National Assembly, will bring these issues to the top of agenda and find solutions.”

The sessions will all take place in Siambr Hywel, the National Assembly’s original debating chamber, housed in Ty Hywel, in Pierhead Street, Cardiff.

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