Gender equality in the work place is an economic imperative. That’s the message from Chwarae Teg’s chief executive Cerys Furlong who said that breaking down barriers to women is essential for tackling poverty and building a strong and resilient economy.  Ms Furlong will be giving evidence to the Senedd’s Equalities committee today on making the economy work for people on low incomes.  She is expected to say that bridging the gender pay gap and enabling more women to enter the workforce will lead to an increase in GDP and improve productivity levels. 

Ahead of giving evidence to the Senedd’s Equalities, Local Government and Communities committee, Chwarae Teg chief executive Cerys Furlong said:

“The economy and the workforce as a whole will benefit from a more equal workforce, this should not just be seen as a ‘woman’s issue’ but as everybody’s business.  For too long, action to address inequalities in workplaces has been seen as a ‘nice to have’, but if we are to build a truly strong and resilient economy here in Wales then gender equality is an imperative. 

“Chwarae Teg is working with employers across Wales to help them implement modern working practices such as flexible, home and results based working.  These businesses have found that in addition to being able to recruit and retain more female workers, their productivity levels have also increased.  Many of the women who have received training through Chwarae Teg have been awarded pay rises and promotions, which in turn will mean that they will contribute more to the economy. Furthermore, research demonstrates that bridging the gender pay gap could create an additional £150bn on top of GDP forecasts for the UK by 2025. 

“A lack of affordable childcare, inflexible working practices and poor public transport provision can all act as barriers to women, resulting in women either not working or forced into job roles that are lower paid and less secure. Issues of poverty and gender equality are inextricably linked. Current economic priorities, traditional, gendered roles in society and low quality work all present barriers to women reaching their full economic potential and increase the risk of poverty. Chwarae Teg believes that there are a number of actions that can be taken to tackle these barriers using existing levers such as procurement contracts and planning regulations.  A shift in our thinking is also needed to ensure that the needs of female workers are considered as economic development strategy is developed to remove the barriers before they have been created.”