Women in the 2015 General Election

Whilst the election results for the various parties have been decidedly mixed, the results for women in Parliament have been a great success. The number of women in Parliament has increased from 148 to 187, and they now represent 28% of all MPs. This places the UK 39th in the world for women’s representation in national Parliaments rather than 59th as we were previously (1), but we would caution that to some extent the hardest steps towards full equality in Parliament are still to come.

All the major parties, except the Liberal Democrats and UKIP, have seen an increase in their number of women MPs.

There are now exactly 100 female Labour MPs in Parliament, an increase from 33.7% to 44% of the Parliamentary Party. This is a great accomplishment for the Labour Party, and whilst even closer steps towards 50:50 representation would be fantastic, Labour is with this result approaching legislative gender equality.

The Conservatives have 64 female MPs, up from 48 in 2010. As a proportion of all their MPs, this is an increase from 15.8% to 19.4%. One in five Conservative MPs being women is a great advance for the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats, in contrast, have no women MPs – the same as UKIP and a number of the small Northern Irish parties. This is because there were only seven Lib Dem women in Parliament before the election, and all but one were in very marginal seats.

The Scottish National Party has seen a big increase however, from having merely one MP out of six in 2010 to 18 MPs out of 57, almost one in three. This number includes the youngest MP since the 17th Century, Mhairi Black. Plaid Cymru also have one in three female MPs, with Liz Saville Roberts being elected as their first female MP. The Greens have also retained 100% female representation with Caroline Lucas holding her seat.

Additionally in Northern Ireland, the SDLP returned one female MP, and the independent Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon was re-elected.

However, whilst it has been a great election for women in Parliament, the parties should not become complacent. The hardest gains for women in Parliament have yet to come, and it will become harder as we approach parity. Whilst 50:50 equality is not something that can or should be mandated, Fawcett would like to see a full commitment from all of the parties to try to help correct gender imbalances within those who make our laws.

 

(1) http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

 

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