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A controversial gender balancing motion fell at NUS National Conference this morning.
The motion requiring constituent unions to guarantee that 50% of their delegations to conference be women was rejected by the Conference by just nine votes. Delegates, voting by secret ballot, voted 268 to 259 to reject the motion. There were 15 abstentions.
Debate on the motion ran through the whole time of Conference, but the actual motion debate was relatively short. It began the night before but had to be delayed until the following morning, a knock on effect of delays throughout the day.
The secret ballot means we do not know how Lancaster’s all male delegation voted, yet. But two of LUSU’s four female Full Time Officers watched the debate from the Conference floor.
Libby Martin, LUSU’s Vice President (Events and Democracy), who was in charge of running Lancaster’s NUS delegate elections, did not support the motion. She said: “I don’t believe this motion promotes equality. As a woman, I feel patronized by it. I support equality but this motion doesn’t. It forces women into seats and does not attempt in any way to actually solve the issues.”
LUSU’s Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), Rosalia O’Reilly spoke against the motion at Conference. Commenting on the result, she said: “This motion was an atrocity to democracy and true feminism: feminism means equality, and quotas for democracy are like bombing for peace.”
The motion called to amend NUS rules to include a new rule stating: “All delegations to National Conference must include at least 50% women, rounded down. Where a union is only entitled to send one delegate and this not delegate is not a woman, the union’s free observer place must be taken by a woman”
A poll on LUSU’s Facebook page showed the majority of students voting on it opposed this recommendation.