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Students to plan women’s parliamentary conference

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A GROUP of sixth-form students is helping to organise a conference for female parliamentarians, which is due to take place in Jersey later this year.

Jess Perchard

St Saviour Deputy Jess Perchard, the Island’s Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians representative, has assembled the group of female Year 12 students to help plan the CWP conference, which is scheduled for 19 and 20 September.

The CWP was founded in 1989 as a section of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and works towards the mainstreaming of gender considerations in all CPA activities and programmes.

Deputy Perchard said she hoped that involving the students in the organisation of the conference would provide them with valuable experiences and skills for their futures.

‘I want to teach them about chairing meetings, organising conferences, interacting with politicians and developing their base skill set as part of my personal pledge to help women across senior roles. They are an amazing, inspiring and brilliant group.’

Ultimately she hopes that a more permanent forum for young Islanders to learn about, and engage with, politics can be developed.

‘I think the Youth Assembly is brilliant but there is definitely room to develop political opportunities and engagement with young people in a more continuous way so that as kids come through they have access to it,’ she said. ‘I think politics in Jersey has a perception of being outdated; we have to break down those barriers.’

Meanwhile, Deputy Perchard called on the States to introduce a diversity policy to ensure that, as the Island’s biggest employer, it sets the best example it can to the rest of the Island.

She said that with a major overhaul of the public sector currently under way, the States had an ‘amazing opportunity’ to modernise everything from the language used in the workplace to policies used to recruit new employees.

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And she said the fact that such improvements had not already been made was ‘depressing’.

‘We have an amazing opportunity with a new States chief executive, new team of people – a lot of them are from the UK and they are bringing with them experts that could be and should be involved. Yet in this same breath we haven’t modernised in this way [diversity policy] and that is so depressing,’ she said.

‘I am not from an HR background so in terms of how it exactly works I don’t know. What I do know is we do need a diversity policy.

‘There is language we shouldn’t be using, words and phrases that reinforce gender stereotypes that should not be used in job adverts, for example, like determined, resilience, focus, ability to work with equally ambitious people, gravitas, can own the room.

‘We know it is human nature to recruit people like yourself so for any woman looking up in the organisation you don’t see people like you. It is just so depressing not to take advantage of the opportunity we have to refresh and modernise.’

She added that plans for new States office buildings based on modern working principles should be backed up by ‘modern and inclusive policy’.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
author

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