The WNC held its All-Partners Conference on Thursday 19 November at the Conference Centre at the Department for Business, Innovationa and Skills, at 1 Victoria Street in London. The Conference was for WNC Partners and is a requirement under our governance procedures that we bring together our partners every few years to hear their views on those topics that most concern them. This is an extremely important event for WNC and especially so in this our 40th year, as bringing our partners together in this way helps to ensure we remain aware of our partners' views and concerns, which helps inform future WNC activity.
Once again the Conference proved to be a fantastic success due to the magnificent support and response of our partners, who came from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, as well as all parts of England and represented a wide and diverse set of interests.
The event was opened by WNC Chair, Baroness Joyce Gould who welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending. Baroness Gould included in her speech, a reference to a speech given by Earl Ferrers in the House of Lords in 1957 about the prospect of women entering the Lords. This can be viewed here. The Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, followed and give a very interesting speech. Next followed the discussion workshops which were held on the five most popular topics identified by WNC partners. These were, Women in the Economy; Violence Against Women, the Single Equality Bill, Women in Power and Decision Making; and the Gender Duty. Each of these workshops were facilitated excellently by WNC Commissioners and friends of WNC, who are experts in the relevant subject area. Some fascinating points were raised in these discussions and each concluded by identifying four points, statements or questions to feed back to the full plenary session after lunch.
The afternoon began with the feedback from the workshops and the discussion amongst the full conference of partners which followed the feedback and which was chaired by Baroness Gould, showed the breadth of knowledge and experience that were represented at the event.
The Solicitor General, Vera Baird QC MP, then rose to give the keynote address to the conference. Following her speech, the Solicitor General joined the panel for a question and answer session, which also included the Director General of the Government Equalities Office, Jonathan Rees, the Director of Fawcett, Ceri Goddard and Marai Larasi, the Director of IMKAAN. Many of the questions taken had been submitted by WNC partners in writing in advance and produced some interesting points in the responses from the panel.
The event concluded with Baroness Gould thanking all participants and inviting everyone to continue their discussions and networking over refreshments.
A full report on the Conference will be produced and placed on our website in due course.