The recent election of Ceredigion Assembly Member Elin Jones as Deputy leader of the Plaid Cymru group in the Welsh Assembly, alongside Leanne Wood as Party Leader, is welcome for a number of reasons.
Firstly it demonstrates a welcome coming together of two people who recently fought the party's leadership campaign against each other. Secondly it provides the leadership with geographical and linguistic balance. And thirdly, it further solidifies Plaid Cymru’s commitment to the promotion of women.
Almost all the key posts in Plaid Cymru are now filled by females:
Leader: Leanne Wood AM
Deputy Leader: Elin Jones AM
President: Jill Evans MEP
Chair: Helen Mary Jones
Chief Executive: Rhuanedd Richards
Just to provide a little balance, Elfyn Llwyd is the party’s UK Parliamentary Leader.
People have been scratching their heads to find a party in any country that compares to this.
Of course, despite efforts, it's not like this throughout the party. Plaid has operated a degree of positive discrimination in its selection of Assembly candidates for years with only limited success. The party's Welsh Assembly group currently consists of four women out of 11 AMs. Clearly more needs to be done.
Those arguing against positive discrimination tend to emphasise the importance of selecting the perceived best candidate for the job. This forgets that ‘the job’ is currently defined by a somewhat adversarial, arguably male-orientated, political world. We need to be thinking in a longer-term, more revolutionary way than that. There's discussion of ways others are trying here.
The real issue for me is the democratic deficit that happens when 50% of the population is grossly under-represented in government. This has a devastating effect on our societies. Of course, there's always the occasional Thatcher, but, in the main, it's very unlikely that we'd have so many wars or that the planet's eco-system would be in such a state if women were properly represented in governments around the world. The pre-dominance of women at the top of Plaid Cymru is unique in politics and a credit to the party.