Welsh women's rights group in closure equality warning

Woman's silhouette The WWNC collated views of groups it represented to give to policy makers

A group campaigning for women's rights in Wales says its closure, after "mistakes" were made with its funding, will seriously harm equality

The Welsh Women's National Coalition's (WWNC) holds a closing ceremony at the Senedd later after it was refused assembly government money.

Ministers have accepted mistakes were made in handling funding bids.

The equivalent groups in England and Scotland are 100% government funded.

The WWNC said the "mistake" would have "long-standing repercussions".

The group speaks on behalf of more than 50 organisations, representing the views of women in Wales with the assembly government, particularly in regard to policy making.

Naomi Brightmore

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It is a very sad state of affairs that government priorities make it impossible for WWNC to formally continue”

End Quote Naomi Brightmore WWNC director

Founded in 1997 in preparation for devolution, it has relied on assembly government funding since 2001.

But when it emerged last month that its request for £98,500 over the next year from the Advancing Equality Fund (AEF) had been rejected, the organisation announced it would have to close.

Its closure, it says, would mean that women in Wales would be left disadvantaged in comparison with women in England and Scotland, where the equivalent organisations are 100% government funded, it said.

WWNC director Naomi Brightmore said the the organisation had achieved "so much with so little" in its history and hit out at the assembly government.

"It is a very sad state of affairs that government priorities, in this very difficult economic climate, make it impossible for WWNC to formally continue," she said.

"It is still my firm believe that the Welsh Assembly Government have made a huge mistake which will have long-standing repercussions for the equality of women in Wales."

Serious concerns have been raised, and accepted by the assembly government, about the way it administered bids to the AEF for this year.

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The minister has however, indicated that he is committed to ensuring that the views of women in Wales continue to be heard in respect of policy making”

End Quote Welsh Assembly Government

These include breaching its own code of practice on timeliness, transparency, and fair and reasonable treatment of those bidding.

The assembly government says it will work to ensure the voices of women will continue to be heard in respect to policy making.

A spokesperson said: "The Wales Women's National Coalition (WWNC) bid for funding under the Advancing Equality Fund. The Fund was open to bids in autumn 2009 and the WWNC were unsuccessful in their application.

"After this initial decision was made in February, the WWNC made further representation to the minister for social justice and local government but after careful consideration he was unable to grant funding.

"The WWNC were under a 12 month transitional funding arrangement which they knew would come to an end at the end of March 2010.

"It is regrettable that the WWNC were not successful in the bidding round and that they have not been able to secure funding from other sources during this transition period.

"The minister has however, indicated that he is committed to ensuring that the views of women in Wales continue to be heard in respect of policy making.

"The Welsh Assembly Government will continue to explore how this can be best achieved."

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