The film Suffragette celebrates the campaign for women's right to vote but despite progress on May 7th, there is still a long way to go before women are equally represented in politics.
The Sex and Power 2015 report published yesterday by a coalition of feminist and democracy organisations, including Unlock Democracy shows how urgently we need to address the lack of diversity in our politics.
Key findings are:
To date, there have been just 450 women MPs in Britain’s history – below the number of male MPs who currently sit in the Commons (459)
Under a third (32%) of government Cabinet members, and 24% of junior government posts
26% of the whole government (seven in the Cabinet and 20 in ministerial roles)
24% of Cabinet Committee and Sub-Committee places. There are no female chairs of these committees.
The lack of women in these senior decision making roles is not just unjust it is wasteful. From the finance sector to politics, the media and the judiciary, we are missing out on valuable experience that could improve the way we make policy.
As the report shows simply waiting for things to improve is not enough - at the current rate of progress, a child born today will be drawing her pension before she has any chance of being equally represented in the Parliament of her country. We need Parliament and politicians to take urgent action. Our democracy and public life is weaker because it misses the skills experience and talents of over half the population. It is not enough to recognise the problem and simply hope that things will improve; we need Parliament and politicians to take urgent action.