Chwarae Teg aren’t listening to Welsh women

Women in Wales are not being heard. Not by the politicians we elect, nor by the tax-payer funded organisations that are supposed to represent us. On increasingly frequent occasions, we women are actively silenced and excluded entirely from conversations which involve us. The charity Chwarae Teg (Fair Play) purports to be ‘leading gender equality in Wales’. One of its core principles is representation: ‘a fairer Wales where women are visible and influential across all sectors of the economy, society and in public life’.

21st April Hustings

On 21 April, Chwarae Teg held a hustings event – Creating a gender equal Wales – with candidates from Wales’ four main political parties. A number of our members attended. Several of them submitted questions in advance.

What happened at that event was truly shocking.

Answering a question about how to promote ‘gender’ equality in schools, the Plaid Cymru candidate Heledd Fychan spoke with considerable passion about the negative impact of gender stereotypes and the ways in which the ‘pinkification’ of clothes, toys and books limited girls’ lives and aspirations. Her response led to a number of comments and questions in the chat.

One was about the potential impact of self-ID on female sports:

“To ensure fairness and safety please can you discuss whether women deserve the right to retain female only sports and spaces? How to you feel about self identification of males to self identify as women?”

One, from business woman Dee McCullough, raised further concerns about gender stereotyping:

“Heledd your comments re challenging gender stereotyping is welcome – however, does this work when children do not fit with in with these gender stereotypes and they are then encouraged to think maybe they are transgender?”

Questions are ‘divisive’

The Administrator stepped in at this point to explain that all questions had been pre-selected and that no additional questions could be considered. She then posted this extraordinary warning:

“Just a reminder that Cerys and the panelists are not using the chat. We would also remind attendees that this is an inclusive event and we will not tolerate any behaviour that we deem to be divisive. Chwarae Teg’s position on gender identity is clear and can be found here – https://chwaraeteg.com/gender-identity”

Let that sink in for a moment.

In response to a panellists’ critique of gender stereotypes, two politely-worded questions were posted in the chat facility. At a hustings event on gender equality. Hosted by a government-funded women’s equality charity.

The questions (and by implication the questioners) were deemed to be ‘divisive’ and not ‘inclusive’.

Aggressive response

Helen’s high-handed intervention led to further responses:

“It does seem quite remiss to not address one of the biggest topics facing women today (conflation of sex and gender)”

“I see. Does this mean we are unable to ask about this issue that many women have genuine concerns about?”

“Helen are you telling us it is not appropriate for people in this forum to raise concerns about the treatment of girls in Wales?”

Helen responded aggressively:

“As stated earlier, questions were submitted in advance and have already been finalised. Anyone using the chat to post comments that are divisive or offensive will be removed from the event”

Ejected from the hustings

Dee was astonished at this threat:

“Sorry, but as a business woman in Wales, are you telling me that I do not have freedom to discuss issues relating to women and girls without your approval (as a publically funded organisation) where I may have a different [opinion] to yours.”

Dee was promptly removed from the hustings.

Several other participants were made to feel so unwelcome by Helen’s actions that they also left the event. Two participants have since had their names published on social media by an anonymous account (presumably someone who attended the event) claiming that they are ‘transphobes’ and ‘bigots’.

‘Inclusivity’

Thus, under the umbrella of ‘inclusivity’, women attending a hustings event for women, have been prevented from speaking about issues that concern them. When they challenge this censorship they are excluded. Subsequently other participants have been libelled on line.

Chwarae Teg are funded to support and represent women in Wales. Instead, they have directly enabled a climate of fear in which women are scared to voice their concerns or raise issues about their sex-based rights. This has encouraged the harassment and vilification of those few women who are courageous enough to speak up.

This is totally unacceptable.

Chwarae Teg has shown itself to be an anti-women organisation. It is not fit for purpose.