Back in March, we reported that the Mayor had announced the first People’s Question Time for women in London:

With International Women’s Day fast approaching I’m delighted to seize this opportunity to thank the women of London for their incredible contribution to the success of this great city and to announce a special ‘Women in London’ People’s Question Time on July 22nd in Croydon.

The public meeting which took place on this date, however, was entitled Building A Road To Economic Recovery and its panel of six, true to the current Mayor’s form, featured only one woman. No explanation or apology was forthcoming for the cancelled meeting and no mention of it being rescheduled.

Assembly Member John Biggs submitted a question [PDF] concerning the missing meeting to the Mayor at last month’s Mayor’s Question Time:

Women’s People’s Question Time
Question No: 2928 / 2009
John Biggs
At the People’s Question Time event held in Bethnal Green in March this year, you pledged to dedicate the next People’s Question Time, to be held in July, to women. Whatever happened to this? When do you propose this to take place?

Answer from the Mayor:
I am very conscious of a breadth of issues which are of special interest to women, but I am reluctant to run a public meeting that discriminates against half the population of London.

As I mentioned at Bethnal Green, on International Women’s Day, City Hall is and remains a feminocracy. I highlighted in the “Women in London” report published at that PQT meeting, as Mayor of London I am determined to do whatever I can to make life better for women in the capital and plan to see their needs factored into every single policy and decision of my administration from the economy to safety to transport.

Amongst other initiatives, it is worth re-emphasizing that we are investing in key areas such as by doubling the number of Rape Crisis Centres and through the very successful Rape Havens campaign (which has delivered dramatic increases in self-referrals by women) to try and address what is happening with violence against women and particularly with rape.

But on the whole, issues that affect women affect all Londoners and with regards to public meetings, we would prefer to be as inclusive as possible in the issues we discuss and the audiences that attend – which I would hope you agree with?

“I am reluctant to run a public meeting which discriminates against half the population of London” – an astonishing response, considering the Mayor had already announced the meeting and has since held a Young People’s Question Time.

“City Hall is and remains a feminocracy” – maybe Boris believes this when he sees female staff wiping the tables in the City Hall cafe, but as City Hall’s former Chief Of Staff, Simon Fletcher, has pointed out, the representation of women in senior roles at the GLA has declined from 31.7% when the current Mayor took office, to 23.3%. The GLA’s target is for 52% (reflecting the London population) of senior roles to be filled by women.

“But on the whole, issues that affect women affect all Londoners” – really? Women will be disproportionately affected by the forthcoming 20% rise in PAYG bus fares as twice as many women as men use buses to get to work [PDF] and are more likely to be lower-paid, part-time workers. Employment, childcare, health and housing issues also affect women disproportionately yet the Mayor has now decided everything’s hunky dory as he’s factoring women’s needs into “every single policy and decision”.

I do hope the Mayor remembered this at the recent meeting of his International Business Advisory Council, whose annual meeting was attended by 27 men and one woman.

 
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