Still room for improvement for women in politics


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Politics will remain out of touch with society until women are more fairly represented, says Sam Smethers, Fawcett’s Chief Executive, in response to a major new report from a coalition of democracy organisations.

Sex and Power 2015, coordinated by the Centre for Women and Democracy, is the first study on women in politics since the General Election and shows that there is still a long way to go before women are represented equally in politics. Women are not represented adequately as candidates among political parties nor in influential jobs in Westminster.

The research found that women make up:

  • Under a third (32%) of government Cabinet members, and 24% of junior government posts
  • 21% of the government’s Implementation Taskforces, which are key decision-making bodies
  • 24% of Cabinet committee and sub-committee places and there are no female chairs of these.

At the last General Election, women made up 26% of all candidates (up from 21% in 2010), with the Greens, Labour and the SNP having the most (37%, 36% and 33% respectively), while 12% of UKIP candidates were female.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society: “Real progress has been made on women’s representation in the Commons but it’s time to speed up the pace of change.

“We need political parties to take stock and focus on how to achieve 50:50 representation by 2020. Failing to do that means that politics remain out of touch and are missing out on much-needed talent and expertise.

“There are a range of positive steps that the political parties can take but evidence shows that the use of all women shortlists remains by far the most effective. With more women standing for parliament than ever before, equality is more than achievable and it is long overdue.”

The report is produced by ‘Counting Women In’ coalition – the Centre for Women & Democracy, Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, Fawcett Society and the Hansard Society.

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