Building a healthy women's organisation
Labour is determined to build upon thisprogress. The introduction of the ScottishParliament and Welsh Assembly by the Labourgovernment has been accompanied by aselection process within the Labour Party itselfwhich ensures that half the Labour members ofthese bodies will be women. And Labour iscommitted to ensuring that our town hallsbecome more representative. with equalopportunities -and in particular the selection ofmore Labour women candidates -central to theparty's new 'Project 99'.But there is still a long way to go. Women stillmake up less than a quarter of Labour MPs. Just25 per cent of Labour councillors -and far fewerin many areas -are women. And womencontinue to make up just 40 per cent of ourparty membership. In some areas local partiesstill report difficulty filling their quotas. Totackle these problems effectively the partyneeds clear commitment and targeted action.This paper makes proposals for a newly focusedand structured women's organisation to supportwomen to play an active role in the party. Thisis based upon the current women's organisation,which has existed for decades, and is informedby a major consultation about the role of thewomen's organisation which was carried outwith the party.
Women in the Labour Party have made hugeadvances in recent years. In the past decadethe party has made changes whichhave resulted in a significant decline in itsmale-dominated image and culture.A particularly important and high-profilemilestone was the election of 101 Labourwomen MPs on 1 May 1997.Labour is proud to be the first major politicalparty in Britain to introduce quotas for womenat all levels of the organisation, which havehelped bring about this change. Since the late1980s rules have been developed to ensure thatwomen are fairly represented throughout theparty -from the local branch to the NationalExecutive Committee -and that those rulescontinue to apply to all new party bodies whichare established.The election of so many new Labour women MPsin 1997 was largely due to the operation ofpositive action measures, through which Labourhas begun to change the face of British politics.The new Labour government is the mostrepresentative in British political history, with22 women ministers -five of them in the cabinet-including two Ministers for Women, whooversee the delivery of policy to benefit women.The Labour government's programme haswomen at its heart, with many measures -suchas the minimum wage, fairness at work and thenational childcare strategy -set to bring realimprovements to the lives of millions of women.