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WOMEN URGED TO PLAY A PART IN PUBLIC LIFE

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Local women from Greenwich were today encouraged to have a greater ...
Local women from Greenwich were today encouraged to have a greater

say in key national decisions taken by around 1,000 public bodies by

Barbara Roche, minister for women at the cabinet office, at the sixth

in a series of eight regional public appointments seminars.

Today's seminar at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, run in

conjunction with the Women's National Commission, will give practical

help and support to women thinking about applying for a national

public appointment. Interactive exercises, constructive help with CVs

and the opportunity to join a mentors network will all be on offer.

Amongst one of the expert guest speakers is television presenter,

Floella Benjamin, herself a member of the Millennium Commission, who

is keen to encourage others to play a part in public life.

Women account for 34% of the 30,000 national and regional public

appointments but make up around half of all local public appointments

such as school governors, magistrates and local NHS boards. In

Greenwich, women make up 60% of school governors, but far fewer are

chairs of governing committees. There are roughly equal numbers of

male and female magistrates - 32 men and 41 women - while there are 6

women members of local NHS bodies and 4 men.

Speaking at the seminar, Barbara Roche said:

'Women's voices should and must be heard at national as well as local

and community level. Not enough of these women - who have exactly the

skills and talents that we need - are coming forward to fill

vacancies on national boards that take decisions affecting all our

lives, such as the Office of Water Services, Police Complaints

Authority or the Commission for Health Improvement.

'At the moment women only hold around a third of national and

regional posts yet have many of the relevant skills such as project

management, interpersonal skills and the ability to get things done.

Research shows that too many women underestimate their potential

contribution and the relevance of their skills and experience.'

The seminar is chaired by Hilary Strong, director of Greenwich

Theatre and a member of the Arts Council of England. She urges women

not to be put off by a daunting application process.

'You need someone to encourage you. Ordinary people can contribute

very valuable things. Appointing bodies need to draw out what your

skills are, and use them effectively.'

NOTES

1. Public Bodies - Opening Up Public Appointments 2002-2005 sets

out the government's target that by the end of 2005 women should

hold 45-50% of appointments to public bodies. This document is

available here .

2. For further information about women and public appointments see

the Women and Equality Unit websiteand the Women's National commission website .

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