All Women Shortlists work. Please defend and extend them.

Dear Dawn and Shami,

IAWS. Do you?

It is vital that women achieve equal and lasting representation in public life. Almost 40 CLPs recently passed Labour Women's Network's motion to change the law to defend and extend All Women Shortlists. However, the motion narrowly missed out on topping the priority ballot, and will not now be discussed at Women's Conference. But our members tell us they will not let this crucial issue go. So, as women members of the Labour Party and their allies, we call on you as Shadow Secretary of State for Women And Equalities and Shadow Attorney General, to call for changes in the law to defend and extend positive action.

As we note in our motion, women’s representation in public life remains a long way from parity. Only 33% of MPs and 24% of the Cabinet are women, and only 32% of Councillors, 18% of Council Leaders and 18% of Police and Crime Commissioners are women. We are disappointed and frustrated that not one of the recently elected Metro Mayors is a woman.

However, the Labour Party has a proud record of leading the way in increasing women’s representation in public life. Our use of positive action has been extremely successful, resulting in women comprising 45% of Labour MPs, 45% of Labour Councillors, 48% of Labour Members of the Scottish Parliament and 52% of Labour Welsh Assembly Members.

Where positive action is used, it works. So, we need to campaign to extend the law, to use positive action for every elected office. We also need to defend All Women Shortlists by reviewing the sunset and proportionality clauses stipulated in the current legislation, so that positive action remains legal for as long as we need it, not just to achieve but to sustain parity. 

We the undersigned call on you to announce your support for defending and extending All Women Shortlists, to meet with Labour Women's Network to discuss the IAWS campaign, and to commit to a positive action pledge in Labour's next manifesto.

In sisterhood and solidarity,

Labour Women's Network