THE BLOG

Walking Serenely to the Boardroom

07/03/2014 11:46 GMT | Updated 06/05/2014 10:59 BST

Since the recession of 2008, women's progress in almost every sphere - from pay to prospects - has gone into reverse. It's no coincidence that action on correcting our rapidly degrading environment has plummeted in a similar way.

Women outdo men in university qualifications, yet less than 16% of these talented, skilled and well trained people are in our boardrooms. Greens are happy to support quotas for director level women - 40% until 2020 - because gender balance in boardrooms will bring us better run companies, and by that we mean companies which will be more aware of the urgent issues facing us, such as the environmental and social costs of continuing with business as usual.

There are many similarities between women's rights, and environmental rights. Both are about challenging existing power structures and questioning outdated business models, but in this thoughtless throwaway society, the valuable opinions and ideas of women are being thrown out with the rubbish.

Business as usual is not an option. There is a cost to every aspect of what we produce and what we buy, and that cost has so far not been counted. The power to damage our land, water and air should not come free of charge, any more than the labour of our women.

For example, it is well known that peak oil has been passed, which is why the big fossil fuel companies are digging ever deeper to reach ever more inaccessible deposits of oil and gas. The true cost of fracking and deep sea drilling is paid for, not by them, but by corrupting the land, the sea and the air with ever higher pollution, ever decreasing biodiversity, and ever rising prices. Business as usual has failed the ecosystem, has failed the next generation, and has failed women.

It's a cycle which is not sustainable in anything but the short run, But the even worse news is that the longer we continue these polluting ways, the more expensive it will be to put the mistakes right. Of course some things - like the extinction of animals - cannot be put right.

Greens believe in sharing power between men and women, and know that for business large and small there must be a balanced point of view for the best outcomes to be achieved. We will enable women to do better so that all our lives can be better. We will make sure there is more flexible working time, plentiful childcare options, and an end to the gender pay gap.

In Wales, female unemployment is now a record 57,000 and rising, and when women do get work, it is mostly low paid and part-time, and in no way reflects our magnificent value.

On this International Women's day we must not be patient. Equality has never come despite the work of so many good men and women. Equality has not come to us, so we must go to it. There is too much at stake to wait another 40 years - or more.

If society truly cares about the living standards, health and happiness of the next generation, it will have to stand aside and let women walk serenely through to the boardroom, because it is clear to me that there will never be a formal invitation.

Women make up half the population, yet we are underrepresented, underpaid and unwelcome at the top. The Greens are the only political party who will put women high on the agenda because we know none of today's problems will be solved without us.