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Presiding Officer shortlisted for top award

6 February 2013

The National Assembly for Wales’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

She joins two other leading UK female politicians on the shortlist for the Devolved Parliament or Assembly Member of the Year, in the Parliamentary Companion Dods’ Women in Public Life Awards.

The Presiding Officer has been chosen following her election as the first ever female Presiding Officer of a devolved institution in the UK – and in particular, for her work putting the issue of barriers to women entering public life firmly at the top of the political agenda.

She joins London Assembly Member Caroline Pigeon and Scottish MSP Johann Lamont on the shortlist.

“It is a great honour to be thought of in the same company as such leading women from across the UK,” the Presiding Officer said.

“One of my main priorities over the 20 months since I was elected Presiding Officer has been to tackle this issue of barriers to women getting involved in public life in Wales.

“We have conducted a series of seminars across Wales to inspire women from all walks of life to get involved in public life.

“This culminated in a national conference where I was given a mandate to write to the party leaders in Wales about the decline in the number of Women Assembly Members.

“So if I were to win this prestigious award it will also act as recognition for all the women I have met throughout Wales in the last 18 months or so who have impressed me so greatly – and of course it’s recognition of the Assembly staff who have supported me in my role and throughout my career.”

Since being elected to the post in May 2011, the Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, has led on the introduction of a series of changes to Assembly business.

The impetus behind these changes has been the Presiding Officer’s drive to make scrutiny more effective and to create more opportunities for Members to raise matters of relevance to the electorate.

Those changes have included:

  • allowing more scope for opposition party leaders to scrutinise the First Minister;restructuring the Committee system to make it more responsive to the issues coming before the Assembly. There are now five larger Committees which have a dual role of looking at both policy and legislation;

  • allowing more time for Individual Member’s Debates; and

  • providing more scope for backbench Assembly Members to bring forward legislation.

Her time in office has also seen the Assembly named in the top-10 family-friendly places to work by Top Employers for Working Families organisation, as one of the top gay-friendly places to work in the UK by Stonewall, and accredited as Living Wage employer after introducing a minimum of £7.45 per hour for anyone employed on the Assembly’s estate.

“I am thrilled that the Presiding Officer has received this recognition.” said the Clerk of the National Assembly, Claire Clancy.

“Since she was elected, she has worked hard to draw attention to the role women can, and should, play in public life in Wales.

“Her determination to lower barriers to women entering public life is making a real difference.

“I am proud to be able to work with the Presiding Officer on issues that really can help promote democracy in Wales.”

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