29 April 2024

Data from Fawcett and Democracy Club shows that 34% of local election candidates are women. Even more starkly, just 26% of police and crime commissioner candidates and 27% of mayoral candidates are women.

Ahead of the local elections on 2nd May 2024, new data from the Fawcett Society and Democracy club shows that just 34% of candidates are women. This reflects a worrying lack of progress since we last released these figures in 2021, when 33% of candidates who stood were women, and no progress following our last analysis of women’s representation on Councils which found that 36% of Councillors were women. It is clear that without significant and urgent further action, women will continue to remain under-represented when crucial decisions are made about their daily lives.

No party has gender parity in its candidates standing for local election in England, with women making up:

  • 41% of Labour candidates
  • 41% of Green candidates
  • 33% of Liberal Democrat candidates
  • 33% of Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates
  • 29% of Conservative candidates
  • 28% of independent candidates
  • 22% of Reform UK candidates
The top five most common first names of local election candidates are:
  • David (233 candidates)
  • John (218 candidates)
  • Paul (167 candidates)
  • Mark (142 candidates)
  • James (138 candidates)

We don’t see a woman’s name until position 17 – Sarah is the most common female name with 66 candidates.

The 2nd May will also see elections for 9 Metro Mayor seats, and 2 other mayoral seats (Mayor of London and Mayor of Salford) which hold decision making power over a range of issues including skills, business support and transport across their respective regions. Just over a quarter (27%) of the 66 candidates standing for these mayoral roles in May are women. Just one Metro Mayor has ever been a woman. Thus, we see a real risk to the success of devolution if mayoral candidates continue to fail to adequately represent half the population.

Similarly, just 26% of the 136 Police and Crime commissioner candidates standing in May across England and Wales are women, with 37 seats up for grabs. This is the fourth election for these important roles with responsibility for policing budgets, the appointment of local Chief Constables, and ensuring that local police are meeting the needs of the community in their respective regions. It’s particularly concerning to see so few women candidates given the ongoing concerns regarding police handling of violence against women.

Alesha De-Freitas, Fawcett Society Head of Policy, Research and Advocacy said:

51% of the population but just 34% of the candidates – where are all the women? Despite knowing that women tend to be more significantly impacted by local decisions, as we are more likely to rely on council-run services like social care, we are failing to make real progress on women’s representation at local level. We urgently need government to collect candidate diversity data– we simply don’t even have the numbers on how bad the situation is for Black and minoritised women. And we need to make being a local councillor accessible to representatives who have caring responsibilities.

The Fawcett Society is calling for Government, political parties and local councils to act now to increase women’s representation.

We are calling for the Government to:

  • Urgently implement Section 106 of the Equality Act, to require political parties to collect their own candidate diversity data to enable a better understanding of how women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and LGBTQIA+ people are represented. 
  • Introduce a statutory England-wide, comprehensive parental leave policy for councillors. This should be in line with leave available to employees. We commend the government for their recent letter to Local Authority leaders, which clarifies that councils should use existing provisions in the Local Government Act to accommodate leave requests for councillors who are caring for their children. However, this is no substitute for a proper, legally backed system of parental leave.
  • Introduce a four term limit for Councillors to tackle the problem that more men tend to remain councillors for longer, limiting the opportunities for women to stand. This should be introduced with a lead-in time of two terms to give existing councillors time to achieve their aims. 
  • Ensure the Electoral Commission and local police are sufficiently resourced and equipped to enforce legal sanctions for intimidating candidates, campaigners, and representatives during election periods. 
  • Reinstate a formalised funding scheme for disabled candidates in England, working with disabled women involved in politics to improve its processes.


We are calling for local authorities to:

  • Implement their own parental leave policies in the absence of a national scheme
  • Provide comprehensive support for childcare and adult care costs – ensuring that these reflect real costs and are accounted for separately from ‘main’ members’ allowance.
  • Pilot alternative ways of working including online and hybrid engagement mechanisms to enable councillors with caring responsibilities to carry out their duties more effectively. 
  • Adopt codes of conduct, based on the model developed by the LGA in 2020.


We are calling for political parties to:

  • Set out both short and long term targets for increasing women’s representation, including a commitment to equal selection of women candidates for the upcoming General Election, and a clear action plan to achieve them – and commit to legislating for quotas if progress is not made. 
  • Commit to the Fawcett pledge to take a zero-tolerance approach to misogyny, including racist misogyny and any other forms of hate and discrimination in my campaigning and conduct, at the next General Election.
  • Review internal party sexual harassment and complaints policies to ensure they are transparent, quick, victim-focused and independent.

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Women win elections!