CAMPAIGNERS for gender equality have criticised the "glacial" pace at which more women are being selected to run for political office.

New research shows women account for just one in every three candidates running in next month's council elections in Wales.

More than 200 wards have male-only candidate lists, while there are only around 30 wards with female-only lists of prospective councillors.

“Our local authorities make important decisions about the areas we live and work in and yet do not reflect the communities they serve," said Jessica Blair, the director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru.

"The need for action to improve the representation of women in our councils is plain to see.

"We need to grasp the nettle and introduce positive action measures, such as quotas and targets if we are to truly to make progress on representation."

Women make up 33.5 per cent of the candidates in May's elections, up from the roughly 30 per cent last time around, in 2017.

But Ms Blair said if that slow rate of progress continues, it could be 2050 before Wales sees fair gender representation on local government candidate lists.

In Gwent, Monmouthshire leads the way with roughly 45 per cent women candidates - the highest of any council area in Wales.

Caerphilly county borough has around 34 per cent women candidates, followed by Newport (32 per cent), Blaenau Gwent (30 per cent) and Torfaen (29 per cent).

Evelyn James, who runs the Diversity 50:50 campaign at Women's Equality Network Wales, said parties' voluntary measures to improve diversity had "obviously failed" and "legally binding quotas to secure at least 50 per cent women candidates" were needed "more than ever".

Campaigners would also like to see more data published on candidates' other characteristics - such as ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation - as a way of ensuring better representation in government.

Natasha Davies, policy and research lead at gender equality organisation Chwarae Teg, said the current situation nationwide was "not good enough" because parties have had "ample time" to make sure prospective councillors "truly reflect the diversity of Wales".

“We wait to see how many women will be elected in May’s elections but considering that just a third of candidates are women, it is inevitable that we will not achieve the goal of gender-balanced and truly representative local government in these elections," she said.

"We cannot and must not be in this same position in five years’ time.”