This paper explores some of the practical and political implications of local government women's initiatives. Two themes are discussed using survey and case-study material from a variety of local authorities. First, why do some local authorities choose to develop positive policies for women? Second, what status do these initiatives have and how politically/socially influential are they? The paper suggests that local government policy making can only be understood by reference to local social relations as well as an area's overall economic and political profile. Finally, the paper concludes that 'tokenism' needs to be developed into a far more sophisticated concept if it is to be used to assess local government women's initiatives.