This is a long-term interest for Fawcett Milton Keynes, dating back to research carried out in 2015/16. It forms a major part of our current work.

In 2020 we launched a series of discussion papers on women and local democracy in Milton Keynes. We’ve shared these papers with Milton Keynes City Council, local political parties, and local and national organisations concerned with widening participation in local democracy. In line with Fawcett’s national commitments, our aim is to promote greater diversity in local government, including increasing women’s participation.

We argue that it is important for councils to reflect, as far as possible, the diverse communities they serve, so that a range of local perspectives and experiences can be taken into account in policy development, planning and resource allocation. Moving towards gender parity - the equal representation of women in all their diversity – is a major part of this. We have begun to carry out annual monitoring of Milton Keynes City Council elections to document changes in the representation of women.


Composition of Milton Keynes City Council following elections in 2023: number and percentage of female and male councillors

After sluggish change over the years, 2022 saw a step change in the representation of women on Council. The percentage of women councillors increased to 44%, a figure that has been retained in 2023. In 2021 there were 39%, and in 2019 37%. So, perhaps, some signs of real progress?

Composition of Milton Keynes City Council following elections in 2023: gender and political party

Overall figures mask differences between political parties: since 2019, Labour has done well with respect to gender: they have consistently had more women than men councillors. Following the elections in 2023 they had 13 women out of a total of 25 councillors. The Liberal Democrats have steadily increased their number of female councillors in recent years: following the elections in 2023, 7 out of their 15 councillors were women. The Conservatives have had relatively low numbers of female councillors since 2018. After the 2023 elections, they had just 5 women councillors out of a total of 17. We argue that we need more women on Council from all political parties: all need a clear electoral strategy to ensure women are selected to stand in winnable seats.

Download our 2020 paper looking at changes in women’s position on Milton Keynes Council, 2015/16-2019/20

Download our most recent monitoring paper, focusing on the 2023 elections

A related strand of work is reflected in another 2020 paper on Rethinking equality for post-crisis times: a focus on gender. This paper presents research, data and observations on how gender equality is reflected in planning and decision-making in Milton Keynes. It includes recommendations on how equality analysis could be integrated more fundamentally into planning and strategy development by Milton Keynes Council.

You can download our Rethinking equality paper here