The first Isle of Man Federation of Women’s Institutes sitting of Tynwald Court has been hailed a success.
Held on Thursday November 24 the sitting brought together Women’s Institute (WI) members from across the Island to assume the roles of Members of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council and where topics ranged from domestic abuse to climate change, organ donation to safeguarding Manx borders.
Two motions were put before the Court. The Hon Member for Ayre and Michael Mrs Moira Chrystal moved that the process of open public consultation be reviewed while the Hon Member for Rushen, Mrs Rita Steele, moved that the Department of Education and Children only assist with payment of university tuition fees for students undertaking to contribute to the Manx economy for five years following graduation. Both motions failed to carry.
WI Isle of Man vice-chairman Mrs Diane Helliwell (Douglas East) said the sitting had ‘given a voice’ to the WI and not only provided an opportunity to illustrate the breadth of issues of concern to the Federation but also to raise its profile in the community and within government, which would help in its work ‘to make positive change’. She added that long considered a ‘country organisation’ the WI was now ‘enjoying a resurgence in town and city locations’. Mrs Rita Steele (Rushen) said she was excited to have had the opportunity to participate in a Tynwald sitting, as it complemented ‘the WI’s long history of campaigning’. The sitting, which had attracted the attention of the Federation’s magazine WI Life, a journalist from which observed the proceedings, was arranged by the Tynwald Chamber and Information Service in collaboration principally with the Isle of Man WI chairman of public affairs sub-committee Mrs Kath Wilson (Douglas Central) who said: ‘To have experienced Tynwald “first hand” has given us a greater insight into the workings of parliament.’ She thanked those WI members who had been ‘brave enough to take part’, and expressed her gratitude on behalf of the Federation to officers and Members of Tynwald for their cooperation, support and warmth of welcome to what had proved ‘an amazing experience’.
Isle of Man Federation chairman Mrs Pam Beedan (Douglas South) said: ‘I’m so proud of our members, especially in their choice of topics on the Question Paper – from Brexit to the Island’s Dark Skies Discovery Site status – and eloquence in debate . An occasion such as this helps to get the WI noticed and also raises awareness of the Federation among third-party organisations which, increasingly, are looking to work with us. My hope is that this Women’s Institute Tynwald might lead to creating a greater appetite among women of all ages in the Isle of Man to come and give the WI a go. In short, it’s been a truly empowering experience and has served to reinforce the Federation’s relevance.’
The President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan MLC said: ‘It was a pleasure to preside over what was a most enjoyable and interesting sitting. I congratulate WI members on the high quality of debate and well-reasoned contributions and thank Members of Tynwald for their support of what was a very worthwhile exercise, one which most certainly merits repeating.’