Local and Equal

Why does local government matter?

Local government plays an important role in all our lives: it provides vital care and social services, influences economic development in our neighbourhoods and is a vital part of the UK’s democratic system.

Local and Equal – does local government work for women? is a year long commission by the Fawcett Society and Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) to answer this question. The commission is now closed- please check back for a full report this summer.

The commission was jointly chaired by Dame Margaret Hodge MP and Cllr Gillian Keegan, Director of Women2Win, alongside a host of expert commissioners with expertise in local government, women and BAME political representation and devolution. We are grateful to the Barrow Cadbury Trust for the funding of this commission.

Please find the full list of commissioners here.

Interim Report: Does Local Government Work for Women?

In April 2017, Fawcett published its Interim Report, which analysed responses from over 2,300 councillors. The report revealed some worrying findings, with almost four in ten female councillors having experienced sexist comments from within their own party. The full report is due in the summer. Key findings from our Interim Report include:

  • 38% of women councillors have experienced sexist comments within their party, and 33% from other councillors. 10% have experienced sexual harassment.
  • Progress has stalled. 33% of councillors are women, up from 28% in 1997, while 29% of MPs are women, up from 19% in 1997.
  • 28% of women and 18% of men report childcare as a barrier. 47% of women and 26% of men report other caring commitments as a barrier.
  • There are 3.5 times as many men aged 18-34 as women on councils. 35% of councillors are aged 65-74, and there are two men for every woman in this age range.
  • Of councillors who have been in office for 20 years or more, there were three men for every one woman.
  • Men and women are equally ambitious, yet only 17% of council leaders are women.

Download the press release here: Local Government Commission Interim Report Press Release

Download the executive summary here: Executive Summary – Does Local Government Work for Women – Interim Report – April 2017

Download the full interim report here: Does Local Government Work for Women – Interim Report – April 2017

What does the commission do?

The Commission seeks to understand the barriers to equal representation in local government for women. It will take a granular look at this issue and consider the particular experiences of women from a range of backgrounds, including black and minority ethnic (BAME) women, LGBT women and those with caring responsibilities.

In addition it will consider the impact of women’s under-representation on local decision making and women’s wider engagement in local politics.
Through examining the evidence and best practice on these issues it will make concrete proposals to ensure that local government really works for women.

The Commission will use a number of means to gather and test the evidence on this issue:

1. Hold evidence gathering sessions on issues facing women in local government including councillors, officers, leaders and devolution

2. Consult the public: tell us if you think local government works for women or ask your local female councillor to give us their experiences of local government.

3. Research: currently no organisation is responsible for finding out how many women councillors there are after each election so we’re counting councillors to find out where and which party is best for women’s representation – we started with the Northern Powerhouse and you can read our report about women in the Northern Powerhouse here. This will include gathering evidence about the diversity of women who are local councillors or who make it into the most senior positions. We will also conduct a small number of interviews with female council leaders to find out what it’s like to be a woman at the top.

How can you get involved?

We need you to help us gather evidence, stories, experiences, photos and views. No matter if you have a minute, an hour or a day to spare, there are lots of useful ways to get involved:

Got one minute to spare?

• Share our social media posts with your followers making sure you include the hashtag #LocalandEqual
• Follow your female councillors on social media.
• Tweet your councillors to promote the campaign.

Want to get more involved?

• Tell us your views by getting in touch with your local Fawcett group to share your experiences. A list of the groups and their contact details can be found here.
• Why not attend a public council meeting? Get clued up on who’s making the decisions that affect local services and developments in your area.
Sign up to hear more about the campaign and find out when our report is published.

In the news

Cllr Gillian Keegan, co-chair of our commission, explains why it is so important to Public Sector Executive