International Women’s Day and what it means for the well-being of future generations of Wales

Today, here in Wales and across the world we celebrate International Women’s Day. A landmark event that dates back over one hundred years, that truly feels like a global acknowledgement of the joys, challenges and realities of what it means to be a woman. An issue, it seems, that features more prominently in the news and media than ever before.

Because despite the many improvements to the lives of women here and across the world, with maternal deaths almost halved, more women living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy, improved access to contraception services and information, and improved screening and treatment for women with cervical cancer, there is a global consensus of concern amongst scientists and experts that this progress and these rights could be compromised.

Here in Wales today, only 23% of Welsh MP’s are women, our number of female AM’s has decreased to 42%, and we only have two female leaders of local authorities in Wales. In good news, there has been an increase in female Police and Crime Commissioners and Deputies, and 60% of Health Board Chief Executives are now women.

The recent women’s marches that took place in Cardiff and across the world, demonstrated that the fight’s not over. It showed just how much women are willing to stand up and fight for what has been long-fought in our recent past, and what we aren’t willing to lose in our futures. It showed that improving women’s rights must be inclusive, intersectional and representative. That the voices of women would not be ignored, and that the boundaries between our political lives and our personal are ever-more blurred and interconnected.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change, which feels very fitting – not just as I enter my second year as Wales’ first Future Generations Commissioner – but in terms of what the Well-being of Future Generations Act is trying to achieve.

We need to be bold in striving for change in the public sector, in improving the way we live and work so that the Wales we leave behind is one that is fit for future generations. If we are to drive change we must be bold, take risks, and go beyond the art of the possible.

It is the Act’s holistic perspective and understanding of the interconnections between the well-being goals that makes it so internationally groundbreaking. The realisation that we cannot achieve a more prosperous, resilient and healthier Wales, if we are unable to achieve a more equal Wales.

When the Act was passed, The UN said that ‘what Wales does today, we hope the world will do tomorrow’, and when we think about International Women’s Day and the challenges that women still face at home, in work in public life, wouldn’t it be amazing if we in Wales led the way for gender equality? To act as global leaders in the face of gender parity; ensuring that Welsh women are the ones that are written about and are those that are aspired to in years to come.

Here as the team at the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner, we strive to empower and help each other along, and I am lucky to work with so many talented, resourceful and dynamic women. As Malala Yousafzai declared, ‘we cannot all succeed when half of us are held back’. Ensuring equal rights for women will be fundamental to the well-being of future generations, not just here in Wales but across the globe.