Evidence from witnesses
Recordings of witness testimonies along with any supporting documentation they provided are available below.
Please note that witnesses were invited with an understanding that they would have strong views on the topic, which assembly members may find uncomfortable or difficult to listen to.
We were able to offer support to assembly members, which we cannot offer to members who choose to watch the testimonies in their own time. Please be aware that you may find some of the evidence presented distressing. You can find links to support services here >>
Witnesses responses to participants' questions from week one are now available: Responses from week one questions
Witnesses responses to participants' questions from week two are now available: Responses from week two
Witnesses responses to participants' questions from week two in accessible format >>
|Manager of the Scottish Trans Alliance
|Trade unionist and co-founder of Women's Place UK
|Academic with expertise in 'the study of culturally induced ignorance'
Introduction and background
Dr. Jane Doe
To download the participant questions and answers, please click here.
|Non-binary trans teacher
|Dr Shereen Benjamin
|Ending violence against women
|Karen Ingala Smith
|Chief Executive of NIA, which runs services for women and girls who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence and abuse
* Supporting documentation
|Ending violence against women
|Tabitha Morton presenting summary of Women's Aid & Cornwall Refuge Trust
|Witness testimonies from evidence session of the Women and Equalities Select Committee about the exemptions in the Equality Act in relation to single sex services
|Dr Jane Clare Jones
|Feminist writer, philosopher and activist
* Supporting documentation
|Former Green party policy coordinator
Introduction and Background
Questions and Answers
Dr Shereen Benjamin
Karen Ingala Smith
Tabitha Morton presenting summary of Women's Aid & Cornwall Refuge Trust
Dr Jane Clare Jones
This is the brief went out to external organisations to tender for running the members' assembly.
Women’s Equality Party Members’ Assembly: Request for Proposals to run a Citizen’s Assembly with Members of the Women’s Equality Party, Summer 2020.
WE have now commissioned NatCen to carry out the assembly based on the proposal submitted in response to this brief.
NatCen is a leading social research agency that has experience of carrying out online deliberative research on complex issues, including a project that brought remainers and leavers together to agree on post-Brexit policies.
The advisory group, once appointed, will work closely with NatCen and central office staff to deliver the assembly.
The Women’s Equality Party (WE) is inviting tenders to deliver an online citizen’s assembly with its members as part of a four-step member-consultation. The assembly will make recommendations as to whether WE need to make policy changes in light of a motion debated at our last conference, proposing the adoption of changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
About the Women’s Equality Party
The Women’s Equality Party was founded in 2015 as a non-partisan force in UK politics uniting people of diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and experiences in the shared determination to see women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men so that all can flourish.
WE have seven policy objectives underpinning our mission for women’s equality:
- WE are pushing for equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life;
- WE are pressing for equal pay and an equal opportunity to thrive;
- WE are campaigning for equal parenting and care-giving and shared responsibilities at home to give everyone equal opportunities both in family life and in the workplace;
- WE urge an education system that creates opportunities for all children and an understanding of why this matters;
- WE strive for equal treatment of women by and in the media;
- WE seek an end to violence against women and girls; and
- WE will pursue equal health care and equal social care.
WE will bring about change by winning - support, votes and seats.
Since the Party began in 2015, we have grown in number with around 70 branches across the United Kingdom, and around 30,000 members and supporters. We open our membership to members of other political parties in a bid for more collaborative politics. We stand for election to local, regional and national seats, and won our first ever seat on Congleton Town Council in May 2019. We hold Party Conferences biennially, having held our first in November 2016, our second in September 2018, we will hold our third Party Conference online 15-18 October 2020.
Background to the Members’ Assembly
WE members can add to or amend party policy via party conferences, by submitting motions to be debated and voted on by party delegates. In 2018, twenty members submitted a motion calling on the Party to support a process of self-determination of gender, and legal recognition of non-binary people.
Conference voted to refer the motion on self-determination of gender and legal recognition of non-binary people to two committees of the Party with direct accountability to the members: the Policy Committee and the Steering Committee, in order to carry out a member-wide consultation.
The Policy Committee is made of an elected spokesperson and movement builder for each of our seven policy goals and the party in Scotland. The Committee helps us communicate our policies, by growing our movement and representing us as spokespeople at events and in the media. The committee works together to ensure the consistency and coherence of new policies as they are developed.
The Steering Committee is the Party’s central decision-making body outside of Party conferences. It steers the direction of the Party by agreeing strategy, planning ahead and reacting to internal and external factors. It monitors the Party’s activities and outcomes against its mission, aims and objectives, and makes sure the Party’s activities are within the budget it sets and approves each year.
The committees have worked together since the last conference to design a consultation process that aims to build consensus, and to allow people with different views on the topic to come together and listen to and learn from each other. Recommendations made by the members’ assembly about whether WE need to make policy changes in light of the motion, will be put to all our members after the assembly, as part of a member-wide consultation.
The aim of the members’ assembly is for participants to learn about the context and issues arising from proposals made in the motion in relation to our policies, hearing from a range of views, expertise, and lived experience, and deliberating on whether we need to change or add policies as a result. We are open to amending the specific formation of the question and follow up questions that are actually put to assembly members, but our working question is,
In the context of the special debate around the 2018 motion on the Gender Recognition Act, what changes, if any, need to be made to WE policies?
- Inclusion of the range of views of party members among participants
- Diversity and Representation of participants
- Equality of voice
- Balanced expertise and knowledge (including lived experience)
- Opportunity for members to feed into the process
The assembly process will be as open and transparent as possible, with all presentations and Q&A sessions available to view by all members of the Party, as well as by invited independent observers and by invited press. Selection to the assembly will be conditional on participants being content for their names to be public, but they will need guidance on conduct and use of social media etc. while the assembly process is ongoing.
In the context of the Coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty about local lockdowns; travel restrictions; and a potential second wave, we are looking to hold the assembly online over a maximum of three weeks in August 2020. Sessions could be held over two weekends, but given the caring responsibilities of many of our members, we anticipate needing to hold sessions over evenings as well as weekends, in order to make the assembly accessible.
We expect to need a reasonable amount of time for the background information, with additional sessions to explore the interaction of the issues with our seven policy objectives. It may be possible to combine sessions on some of our objectives to reduce the total number of presentations and deliberations. Presentations could also be recorded and watched in advance by assembly members, to ensure sufficient time for members to ask questions of witnesses and deliberate in small groups.
We plan to invite witnesses to submit evidence to the assembly, and to deliver presentations to participants of no more than 15 minutes each. Participants will have an opportunity to question witnesses, before deliberations in small groups, which all need to be facilitated.
We are putting together an advisory group of independent experts with a range of views on the substantive issues, to guide the process and to support the selection of witnesses in relation to WE’s objectives.
Selection of participants - members
The demographic information we hold on our members is incomplete, so this tender includes the collection of our members’ demographic data and broad views on the topic, based upon which you will take a random stratified sample and recruit the assembly, which should be broadly representative of the Party in its demographics.
The demographic data we would like to stratify the sample by are:
Age, sex, gender, ethnicity, disability status, trans status, sexuality, a socio-economic background question. We already hold geographic information and will also use that to stratify and sample members.
We have a database with members’ email addresses and phone numbers by which to access them to collect the information, and have the capacity to build surveys within our database (Nationbuilder).
In line with our principle of transparency, members of the assembly will not be anonymised, and their agreement to having their name published in internal and external communications is a condition of participation. We will, with your support, draw up guidance for their conduct for the assembly period, including on confidentiality and use of social media.
Selection and role of witnesses
We plan to hold an open call for witnesses, drawn from both within and outside of the Party. While we will provide input on the call for witnesses, we are interested in your approach to designing criteria for witnesses as part of your bid.
Witnesses will include people with expertise but different perspectives; people with lived experience; campaign or advocacy groups. Each witness, once selected, will be invited to submit a report - ideally a week ahead of meeting the participants. Witnesses will be invited to present their evidence or experience in no more than 15 minutes. The material presented should be brief and accessible.
The successful contractor will report to Erin Mansell, Political Adviser and Researcher at the Women’s Equality Party. Following an initial meeting to agree the detailed plans, there will be weekly updates via online meetings with Erin to assess project progress against key deliverables (with the potential for more ad hoc as needed). The advisory committee will oversee the work, and may also join the meetings.
The assembly’s recommendations will form the report to the Party. A more detailed analysis of deliberations will be undertaken in-house and does not therefore form a part of this brief.
This is an ambitious timetable, but the assembly must be completed before the third Party Conference in October in order to update members and get their input on the wider consultation at that stage. We are open to amendments to the proposed dates within the overall timetable (with completion by 4 October latest). All dates are 2020.
Proposal requirements and selection criteria
The Women’s Equality Party is seeking an individual or team with the following attributes:
- Awareness of the the debate around the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and its interaction of the GRA with the Equality Act 2010
- Objectivity in these matters while carrying out the work
- Experience of carrying out citizen’s assemblies
- Experience of carrying out deliberative research online
Your proposal should include:
- An outline of your approach to this work showing how you would meet this Brief with key deliverables and dates
- Information about you and the experience of your organisation and team (include all the people who would work on this project), including how you meet the requirements above
- Examples of two similar projects you have worked on
- A budget showing time commitments and day rates, plus any non-staff costs
- Confirmation that you can attend an interview on 6th August if shortlisted, and project inception meeting on 7th August if appointed
- Bids will be scored against the criteria and shortlisted for interview