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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Power to the People? Gender Representation and Devolution in England

This event will discuss gender representation in devolved government.

The devolution of power to local and regional levels has the potential to radically reshape England’s democracy and improve the way decisions are made for local areas. But current governance models present challenges for representative democracy; specifically, the huge under representation of women on combined authority boards and in the leadership of councils with agreed devolution deals.

For example, the boards of combined authorities – the key organisation handed power in devolution deals – have a huge underrepresentation of women. Of the six combined authorities who elected mayors in May 2017, 95% of CA board members (e.g. the leaders of constituent councils) are men, and in the mayoral elections themselves, no women were elected.

New IPPR research shows the scale of underrepresentation in areas with devolution deals, and investigates ways to tackle the problem by drawing on international evidence. At this roundtable event, participants will receive a preview of our findings and recommendations as well as hearing from experts, councillors and international practitioners on what can be done to improve gender representation in local and sub-regional government.

Key questions we will consider include:

  • How could combined authorities be better structured to embed gender equality?
  • How can the local government pipeline be improved so that more women reach leadership positions in combined authorities?
  • What approaches have been pursued in other countries, and which are most effective?

Places at this event are limited and by invite only. Please contact [email protected] for more information.


12.30 Registration and Lunch

13.00 Opening and Welcome

13.10 Presentation of Research: Charlotte Snelling​, Research Fellow, IPPR

13.30 Response and Panel Discussion

  • Cllr Abena Oppong-Asare, London Borough of Bexley
  • Cllr Jo Beavis, Braintree District Council
  • Professor Francesca Gains, Professor of Public Policy and Head of Politics, University of Manchester
  • Silke Breimaier, Project Manager, FES London
  • Evelyn Greeves, Girlguiding Advocate
  • Chair: Cllr Bev Craig, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Care, Manchester Council

14.15 Questions

15.00 Close
Opportunity to sign up to be involved in future campaigns/ initiatives