About the members’ assembly
The Women’s Equality Party is carrying out a consultation with our members on what changes, if any, need to be made to our policies in the context of the special debate on the 2018 conference motion on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The members' assembly is the second of a four-part process, you can find out more at https://www.womensequality.org.uk/members_consultation.
The online members' assembly is based on the citizens' assembly model, which has been used to tackle a range of issues and policies including abortion, Brexit, climate change and social care. NatCen has been contracted to carry out the assembly, guided by an advisory group.
Members selected to participate will be asked to listen to witness testimonies from people with a range of views, expertise and experiences, read a selection of documents, and take part in small group discussions before collectively making recommendations about whether or not the Party needs to add or change any of its policies in light of the evidence they have heard.
Who will take part in the event?
Taking part in the event is open to members’ of Women’s Equality Party (WE). WE sent out a survey to our members asking whether they would be interested in taking part in the assembly and collecting their demographics (for example age, ethnicity, disability) to help broadly represent the membership. The survey also included question on issues related to the GRA, so that the assembly considers the range of views of its members, including - importantly - those who are unsure or undecided what they think.
NatCen will then contact selected participants who represent the range and diversity of WE membership to give more details about the event and check their availability. As capacity is limited to around 60 assembly participants, they will not be in touch with everyone.
Do I have to take part?
No, taking part is voluntary – you do not have to take part if you don’t want to and you can always change your mind. If there is something you would rather not discuss, that is fine.
To take part you will need to be available to attend three separate online sessions in September. The sessions will last for approximately 2.5 hours each and will run as follows:
Date/time of session
What the session will involve
|Week 1: Learning||
Wednesday 16th September
5:30pm to 8:00pm
Listen to witness testimonies from policy experts, service providers and people with lived experience of the issues, some of which may be painful or distressing.
|Week 2: Discussions||
Wednesday 23rd September
5:30pm to 8:00pm
Small group discussions with other members moderated by a NatCen researcher and attended by an observer representing the party or a member of the assembly advisory group. The observers will not engage in the discussions.
|Week 3: Recommendations||
Wednesday 30th September
5:30pm to 8:00pm
Discuss whether the assembly should make any changes to party policies and if yes, vote on these during the final session.
The discussions will be chaired by a neutral, professional moderator from NatCen. Each group will also get the chance to pose questions to witnesses who represent different points of view on the topics under discussion. Before the event you will be asked to read short briefing materials about WE policies and GRA.
What do I need to take part?
As the event will take place using videoconferencing software Zoom, to take part in the event you will need a computer, tablet or mobile device that can make and receive video calls. You will also need a stable internet connection.
What will be discussed?
Participants will hear about the legislative context (Gender Recognition Act, Equality Act and/or other relevant legislation) and listen to a range of testimonies relevant to the motion. These may include, but might not be limited to, the following topics:
- Service provision, e.g. services that support survivors of male violence, health services;
- Using single sex spaces;
- Data collection and categorisation, including things like quotas to improve women’s representation;
- Language around sex and gender in terms of services and inclusion.
To foster respectful engagement and provide opportunities to listen and learn from each other, participants will be required to follow a set of ground rules published before the event. This will include guidance on the use of social media during the course of the assembly.
The discussions and witness testimonies might include topics such as discrimination, violence, harassment and other emotionally upsetting and distressing topics. Examples include experiences of transphobia and experiences of sexual assault and abuse. These topics may be difficult to discuss and raise issues for some members. WE have provided a list (available here) of online support services for those who would like to speak to somebody before or after the discussions.
What if I don’t know anything about the topics for discussion?
It’s absolutely fine - you don’t need to have any particular knowledge to take part. Before the event you will receive a brief document introducing you to the topic which we’ll ask you to read. During the event itself, you will have the opportunity to learn more about it and will be free to say as much or a little as you want during the discussions.
How will my data be used?
NatCen will record the assembly, including presentations from witnesses and experts and the audio of the small group discussions. All recordings will be kept securely and then shared with staff and the Policy Committee of WE, alongside a list of recommendations generated from the discussions. Recordings of small group discussions will not be published, but WE will make witness submissions available.
WE would like to publish the list of names of assembly participants on our website once the assembly is completed. This is to make the process of selecting participants for the assembly transparent to all members. All other details about participants and individual contributions will be kept confidential. You can read about how NatCen will treat the information you give us under the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2018. You can also read about how WE will protect your personal information here.
Where can I find out more?
For questions about the wider consultation by emailing Erin Mansell, Political Adviser and Researcher at WE - [email protected].
For anything not covered here, please email the NatCen research team on [email protected].