The 50:50 Parliament Campaign: why is our government still not equal? [The National Student]

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Politics is dominated by men. This is not a controversial statement, it is a fact. However, women make up half the population in the UK, so why isn’t this reflected in our government? Katherine Hockley spoke to Frances Scott, founder of the 50:50 Parliament campaign, to discuss this issue and the campaign that is trying to make a change and work towards gender equality in parliament.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has asked corporations to include a certain number of women on their boards because it benefits business. He has set them a target, but he has not told them how to go about it.  It is the same with 50:50 Parliament.  We have an aspiration and set a target of around 50% women in Parliament but we are not telling Parliament how to do it. We are asking Party Leaders to debate and decide on the best solution. Like Vince Cable, 50:50 Parliament wants women to be included; sooner rather than later, one way or another.

How many petition signatures are you aiming for and what happens when you reach your goal?

We are aiming for at least 100,000 signatures because then it is possible that this might be debated in the House of Commons.

Why do you think this change is important?

Many reasons – where do I start? There are loads of them on the petition and they are fantastic!

These are some the reasons why I think it is crucial:

I think highly of women, their abilities and experience. Statistically we are not making the most of our nation’s collective resources if women account for less than around 50% of MPs. As Hillary Clinton says “Women are the world’s most underused resource.”

And as Ngaire Woods, Professor at Oxford Uni, says: “We know that when women are in parliament…it builds more resilient, responsive, better informed institutions.” The evidence is overwhelming.

Women’s lives have changed radically over the last century; there has been fantastic and amazing liberation. These changes have significant ramifications for our society. It is crucial that women are involved at a strategic, governmental level to consider the impact of these changes and be fully involved in formulating the strategies that address the consequences.

Then last but by no means least, it is a question of justice. Women are the majority. The best people to represent women are women.  It is unjust that they are a minority when it comes to running the country and forging legislation for the future. Professor Claire Annesley and Professor Francesca Gains have said the same.


The National Student, Katherine Hockley, 3rd June 2014

Comments 1

  1. I have been solving very difficult problems all my working life, which still continues at 71. They usually have a myriad of variables and factors, and if the cure had to be found quickly, the speediest way’s to address the biggest fault or error first. Then the lesser errors and faults sometimes disappear due to having being derivative of the major error or fault.

    In the gender equality arena, the deficiencies in respect, wages, opportunities and representation would all derive benefit if firstly, we had an equal number of male and female MPs. That change would help drive gender balanced agendas, policies, finance, social and international matters, and be perceived by the public as relevant to their lives.

    Most of us oldies went through schools where there were Head Girls, and a Head Boys, and where we learned practical life skills. Even in my infant school, I recall that we wee kids were placed boy+girl on most if not all, of the oak and iron twin desks that had single flap style bench SEATs. So if one seat per two kids of opposite gender had helped us to learn and behave correctly in 1950, then it could well be an effective and simple model to emulate, for bringing evolutionary change to ‘The Chamber’, to provoke only approvable behaviour, sensitive and well reasoned debate and balanced legislation, by having both a male and a female MP returned from each constituency seat. There might still be ‘bun-fights’ but they’ll be equal sided ‘bun-fights’.

    Such a concept has already been well elucidated by Dr Ruth Fox in her submission to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, and it is also obvious to many pragmatic ordinary folk, who mostly neither know where their constituency boundaries are, nor who is their MP!

    To organise such a change for 2020, would be a lot easier than trying to tame the masculine human behaviour that entertains us so, but which has often been held as the cause of the dearth of women wanting to stand for election.

    The government has all the data of where people live, the constituency boundaries are ‘virtual’ boundaries, and can be changed at the drag and drop and click of a mouse on a virtual map. No road-works, ditches, moats, walls or border posts are required. And all the polling stations and election experts to run a twin vote scheme exist.

    Provide the platform and the wished-for candidates will come running.

    They won’t need a ‘Big Brother’ to help them up the steps!

    And there will be abundance of female candidates from everywhere.

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