Voting members of an all-male council in Liverpool have been urged to give up their seats and nominate a woman to take them. The Liverpool City Region council is the highest level of local governance in the area and is made up of seven regional leaders – all of whom are men.
An open letter was sent to the Liverpool City Region cabinet by the Women’s Leadership Group, a collection of women in Liverpool who want to increase diversity in the region’s politics. “As feminists and believers in equality in 2017 we didn’t expect to be asking a man to ‘give up his seat for a woman’,” read the letter, “but that’s what we’re asking of you now.”
According to mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, the constitution dictates the cabinet has to include six local authority leaders and the chair of the local enterprise partnership, all of which are positions currently held by men. However, when mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham was elected, he ensured the combined authority would be gender balanced.
Tabitha Morton, the Women’s Equality Party candidate who ran for the mayoral position, told the Liverpool Echo: “I think [Rotheram] is going to do a good job for us but if he hasn’t got women’s voices at the table he can’t do that. We want to make sure there are women at the table and in the long term change the constitution.”
In response to the all-male cabinet, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson nominated his deputy Ann O’Byrne to represent him in the Liverpool City Region cabinet three months ago.
Mayor Rotheram has since promised to address the constitutional rules that, he says, caused the gender imbalance. A spokesperson said: “Steve is fundamentally committed to achieving equal representation and does support a change to the constitution and is looking at the mechanisms to change the constitution.”