Joint statement from the ‘Counting Women In’ coalition - the Centre for Women & Democracy, Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, Fawcett Society and the Hansard Society
Contact: Will Brett (07979 696 265/ firstname.lastname@example.org)
A major new report released today by a coalition of democracy organisations reveals that despite progress on May 7th, there is still a long way to go before women are equally represented in politics.
Sex and Power 2015, coordinated by the Centre for Women and Democracy’s Nan Sloane, is the first study on women in politics since the General Election - and offers significant new insights into the state of female representation in British democracy today.
- 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)
- At the last General Election, 54% of Labour candidates in target seats were women, as well as 45% of Greens, 41% of Lib Dems, 35% of Conservatives, and 37% of the SNP’s candidates
- Women made up 26% of all candidates on May 7th (up from 21% in 2010), with the Greens, Labour and the SNP having the most (37%, 36% and 33% respectively), while just 12% of UKIP candidates were female.
The research has also found that women make up:
- 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)
- Only 21% of the government’s Implementation Taskforces - key decision-making bodies
- 24% of Cabinet Committee and Sub-Committee places. There are no female chairs of these committees.
In addition, just 22% of Select Committee chairs elected in June are women, while of the 303 places on Parliamentary committees, 33% are women.
Outside of the government, women make up 55% of the Liberal Democrats’ new Shadow Cabinet, 52% of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, and 50% of SNP spokespeople. The report recommends five key areas for improving female representation:
Know the Facts: the Electoral Commission should gather information on the diversity of candidates, with Equalities Monitoring Forms
Commit to Change: Parties should take urgent steps to boost the number of female candidates – reviewing selection procedures, publishing action plans and considering positive action
A Better Working Environment: Parliament and parties should implement paid maternity and paternity leave, revisit working hours, and offer diversity awareness training and advice. All parties should have rigorous complaints procedures regarding sexual harassment
Promote Women: Parties should commit to 50:50 cabinet/shadow cabinet teams by 2020
An Equal Voice: The media should cover female politicians in line with the NUJ Code of Conduct