Bristol Commission for Race Equality & Women’s Commission

At our Full Council meeting last week, we received reports on the work of the Bristol Women’s Commission and the Bristol Commission on Racial Equality.

Both of these commissions do vital work for our city. They bring together expertise from across Bristol to help us create a fair and inclusive city, where economic and social equality is at the heart of everything we do. I invited Sandra Gordon and Vernon Dowdy, interim Chair and Vice Chair for the Bristol Commission for Race Equality, and Penny Gane – chair of the Bristol Women’s Commission to share the work they have done.

Bristol Commission for Race Equality

Bristol is a city where racial and ethnic disparities prevail.

“Ethnic minorities in Bristol experience greater disadvantage than in England and Wales as a whole in education and employment and this is particularly so for Black African people” (Runnymede 2017)

The Bristol Mayoral Commission on Race Equality (CoRE) was set up in January 2018 to help address the systemic discrimination and disadvantages experienced by members of its community because of their race or ethnicity.

In the last 18 months we have:

  • worked with Avon and Somerset Police to support the development of a diversity and inclusion training pathway to ensure cultural competency throughout process;
  • facilitated a series of community engagement events ‘It Takes a Village’ focussed on Black and Dual heritage families exploring impact of serious youth violence and the criminal justice system. Our next event is on 12th December 2019 at City Academy 5-9.30pm;
  • worked with the Judiciary to recruit 11 BAME magistrates, the highest number of BAME magistrates recruited in Bristol;
  • joined the Police Strategic Independent Advisory Group, Women’s Independent Advisory Group and Lammy Review Meeting, contributing to meaningful discussions on Police and Community relations;
  • commissioned parent/teacher/student conferences with a view to address the current inequalities suggested through data and incidents to identify changes to current CPD programmes to support teachers, and identify support needed for parents;
  • participated in a research project to look at the national and global initiatives that have led to higher performance within the BAME community with a view to bringing this back to the Bristol Context;
  • supported the Global Majority Teachers Network in June 2019 to bring Bristol’s BAME teachers together. This group supports teachers through Continued Professional Development, networking and allowing BAME teachers who often work in isolation a place to share their experiences with others.

The task of delivering equality and equity to the City’s disadvantaged is no small matter and is a task for us all, the rewards are a stronger, more productive and cohesive place for us all to live and thrive.

The city needs to embrace the challenge required to make real change through a One City collective approach to delivery. There is a need to explore this opportunity and work towards the Mayoral Commission on Race becoming a City Commission on Race and an integral part of the One City Plan.

Bristol Women’s Commission

The commission was set up in 2014, when Bristol signed the European Charter for equality of women and men in local life. Bristol Women’s Voice is a network for women in Bristol that supports the Bristol Women’s Commission and works with decision makers to ensure actions are taken which make a real difference to women’s lives.

The commission seeks to redress the unequal representation and discrimination encountered by women and girls in Bristol. It has six task groups of stakeholders and experts. Some 70 women from 65 organisations now contribute time and work to the commission. We also now have a Cabinet Member for Women in Bristol, who sits on the commission.

We are five short years in the making and in this time have:

  • drawn up a Women in Business Charter, signed by well over 50 employers, to help address the gender pay gap;
  • organised a huge citywide programme of Suffrage Centenary events in 2018;
  • won funding that enabled us to focus on getting women into paid employment in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Bristol; 
  • run a 50-50 campaign that has seen numbers of women councillors increase from 26% to 43% in two years;
  • lobbied for affordable child care in Bristol (now a One City priority);
  • achieved a standalone chapter on women’s health in the Joint Needs Assessment (that reports on the health and wellbeing needs of the people of Bristol), to highlight the difference between men and women’s health and social outcomes;
  • set up the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative, to tackle violence against women and girls. This means employers now have policies and actions to tackle gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation;
  • worked with Avon and Somerset police through the  Zero Tolerance initiative, to get misogyny accepted as a hate crime;
  • championed a ‘nil cap’ (zero – that none should exist) on sexual entertainment venues;
  • secured Government Equalities Office funding of almost £300,000 in 2 years;
  • run two girls’ conferences per year for last three years, with the support of positive role models;
  • addressed the safety of women on public transport: particularly male violence and pornography. This is now on the agenda of the Confederation of Passenger Transport meeting in January 2020, and will be raised nationally. 

We have also expanded the commission partnership to include Bristol Women’s Voice, the West of England Combined Authority, the University of West of England, the University of Bristol, University Hospital Bristol, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Avon and Somerset Police, the Trade Union Congress, City of Bristol College, Bristol schools, First Bus, Trinity Mirror, the Fawcett Society, Voscur, representatives of the One City Plan and four councillors from different parties as well as the Cabinet Member for Women.

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