Founder of 50:50 Parliament Frances Scott argues that, while we saw female politicians come to the fore in 2015, Westminster has a long way to go to equality
2015 saw female politicians applauded for their impressive work: Angela Merkel was named Person of the Year by the Financial Times and Time Magazine, and Nicola Sturgeon topped the Woman’s Hour Power List. During the general election, women were a powerful presence on the platform during the leaders’ debates – but there is a still long way to go for women to be equally involved in politics.
There are still more men in the Commons than there have ever been women MPs, and there are 400 more male peers than female in the House of Lords.
There are currently 191 female MPs – but this accounts for only 29% of parliament. Worryingly, it’s also a record high. Progress is painfully slow: there are still more men in the Commons than there have ever been women MPs, and there are 400 more male peers than female in the House of Lords. This impacts policy making – with the recent tampon tax debate being an example that is just the tip of the iceberg.
We also need a parliament that is inclusive – not least of parents – so that women are inclined and able to participate. There are proportionally fewer parents (relative to UK averages) at Westminster, but having children should not be seen as incompatible with a career in politics.
In 2016 I hope that people inside and outside Westminster will keep the pressure up in asking for solutions to get a more gender balanced, inclusive, modern parliament. 150 years after the Suffrage Petition of 1866 50:50 Parliament are calling upon all party leaders for solutions to get better gender balance at Westminster – and you can sign our petition here.
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