The number of women in Parliament is a very long way from reflecting the make up of the electorate:
- Women make up 29% of our Members of Parliament.
- The number of women MPs has increased from 147 to 191 from the 2010 to 2015 elections.
- There are seven women members of the 22-strong Cabinet, bringing the level up to 31.8%.
There are more details about women and politics after the 2015 election in the Sex and Power report
Why It Matters
Ensuring that women have equal access to power and are equally represented in our democracy is a matter of both social justice and democratic legitimacy. Women have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Therefore decisions of national importance, that affect us all, are being made without women round the table: the different experiences and perspectives of one half of the country are not being heard.
In austere times, when economic decisions have a particular impact on women, it is important the needs, interests and experiences of women are fully informing political decisions.
Evidence shows a direct link between a better financial bottom line and more women’s involvement: failing to involve women in shaping and building our economy is not just unfair, it is huge waste of talent and potential.
The lack of women at the top also creates a norm for what leadership looks like and can stifle the aspirations of future generations of women.
What do we want to see happen?
Parliament needs to join the 21st century. The arrangement of the House of Commons is inflexible with sitting hours frequently being 2.30pm to 10.30pm, often with even later finishes.
Parliament should abide by the same employment law and working practice requirements as the rest of the public sector.MPs shouldn’t be treated as self-employed and exempt from normal employment regulation, such as formalised maternity rights.
Political parties should do more to increase women’s representation: they must ensure their systems and structures help rather than hinder women interested in politics.
Other sectors with a huge influence over our lives also need to take action to increase women’s presence and voice in power.
Fawcett wants 50/50 in terms of women’s representation in positions of power and influence across public life. We can’t get there without your support – demand change from the political parties, business leaders and the media and raise awareness of the issue.