Milton Keynes Fawcett is one of our most active groups and meets regularly. With a number of upcoming events and great connections with other organisations, the Milton Keynes group is invaluable to Fawcett’s work. The group played a crucial part in gathering evidence for our report on women in local government as well as staging regular public campaigns. 

Current work:

In 2020 MK Fawcett has launched a series of discussion papers on gender equality issues.

*Latest* Discussion paper 3: Women’s participation in local politics: Milton Keynes Council elections 2021 (September 2021)

This paper continues our work on women in local politics: it’s a follow-up study to Discussion Paper 2 (see below). Women are under-represented on Milton Keynes Council – after the 2021 elections we have 39% women. This is slightly above the national average, and it’s a slight increase on previous years. Change is slow, however, and we’re aware it can also go in the opposite direction!

Paper 3 is the first of a series of papers that will monitor the outcomes of local elections in Milton Keynes. It documents the number of female and male candidates selected to stand for election; the number of women and men elected; and the resultant representation of women and men on Council. We look at party political differences. And consider processes by which women and men are selected/elected, including ‘missed opportunities’.

The paper argues that we need greater representation of women in all their diversity: the recommendations we made in Discussion Paper 2 remain crucial. With respect to local elections, it is important to:

  • Conduct a regular diversity audit of Council membership
  • Establish a gender-aware strategy across wards for selecting and electing candidates, and monitor its effectiveness


Discussion paper 2: Women’s participation in local politics: Milton Keynes Council 2015/16 and 2019/20 (October 2020)

This is a report of research around women’s representation and participation on Milton Keynes Council and Council Committees. It compares data the Milton Keynes local Fawcett Group collected in 2015/16 and 2019/20.  

The paper looks at the number of women councillors compared to men, the selection and election of candidates, women and men in senior positions, committee membership, and contributions to debate in Council meetings. It shows that, overall, women are less well-represented than men, including in senior roles, but there are also exceptions and differences between political parties.

The paper identifies a range of recommendations for improving women's representation and participation on the council. These include: 

  • Establishing a gender-aware strategy across wards for selecting and electing candidates, and monitoring its effectiveness. 
  • Lobbying central government to retain the option of online attendance at all Council meetings.
  • Fostering an internal culture that challenges discriminatory behaviour.
  • Taking ongoing action to give women greater voice in Council meetings.
  • Enabling formal job sharing of senior roles where desired.

You can download the full paper here.

Discussion paper 1: Re-thinking equality for post-crisis times: a focus on gender (May 2020)

This report 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.

This paper identifies a range of key barriers to gender equality in Milton Keynes:

  • Women’s voices across the Council as a whole are still not ‘equally represented at the table’. All parties need to find ways of building a pipeline of future women candidates.
  • Equality Impact Assessments need to be more accessible and it should be made clear how their results feed into planning and monitoring. 
  • A systematic effort is needed to provide data specific to Milton Keynes, broken down by sex/gender and other protected characteristics.
  • The Council should explore ways of presenting complex equality data on its website in an accessible way, taking inspiration from other Councils.
  • Equality analysis is not fully integrated into MK planning and strategy development. It often happens too late – for example, after evidence studies have been commissioned and carried out – and the analysis may be insufficiently informed by gender-differentiated data and life experiences. 

You can download the full paper here.

Both papers have been shared with Milton Keynes Council and a range of Milton Keynes stakeholders, with the intention of sparking a city-wide debate, affecting not just the revised Council Plan for the post-pandemic period, but also long-term political planning for future elections.

Voices of Women MK Event #VOWMK

Our online Voices of Women MK event was held on 7th March 2021. Nine hours of talk, debate, presentations and films. We celebrated 101 years of registered nursing and midwifery, the way women’s voices are leading the work of international aid agencies, heard how women artists in MK have continued creating and expanding their work through lockdown. A Black Lives Matter organiser told us how she had arranged BLM demonstrations in MK, and we learned how women’s experiences of finding and keeping suitable housing is compromised by policy and common attitudes. Oh, and a craftivism workshop generated loads of pants to promote smear tests. And so much more. You will soon be able to view extracts on YouTube so watch this space!

We are using all the contacts which were generated through #VOWMK to continue the conversation on building our MK Women’s Partnership with the aim of centring women’s experiences in the planning and policy underpinning the city of Milton Keynes. 

Past work: 

A 'HERSTORY of Women in Objects' was an exhibition at MK Museum in 2018 celebrating 100 years of partial franchise for women. Fawcett MK contributed with artefacts such as:

  • Greenham Common Badges and Banner
  • A selection of Physics A-level teaching texts published in the ‘90s and designed to encourage more girls to pursue the subject 
  • Beloved toys such as a Bayko Building Set (1956, currently going on ebay for £125!) with a girl and a boy on the front, and a skipping rope which symbolised girls’ games taking over the streets of Hull in the 1950s.

We had a Tea and Tour evening to promote the exhibition and Fawcett and members of the group volunteered as tour guides throughout. 

In November 2017, the group organised an exhibition called 'Women Who Made Milton Keynes', which celebrated the lives of 10 women who had a huge impact on Milton Keynes' identity. The launch of the exhibition was attended by Fawcett’s Sam Smethers, the then Mayor of Milton Keynes, David Hopkins, and Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart, along with the five surviving women featured in the exhibition and members of their families: Deirdre Battista, Teresa Collard, Jane Henshaw, Liz Leyh and Margaret Sale. Archived at MK City Discovery Centre and the materials can be viewed at here

In 2015 Milton Keynes members of the Fawcett Society undertook an observational study of MK Council Meetings in order to explore whether there were gender differences and/or inequalities in the way Council business was carried out. The report analyses the data collected and concludes that it shows significant gender differences in the participation of male and female councillors in Milton Keynes Council meetings. You can download the full report here.


Email: m[email protected]
Twitter: @fawcett_mk

The group would love to hear from other Fawcett members living in the area.