14 DECEMBER 2018

Today marks 100 years since the first women voted in a General Election following the Representation of the People Act 1918 being passed. About 8.4 million women were able to vote. Today also marks 100 years since women could stand for election.

The Fawcett Society Chief Executive Sam Smethers says:

"In 2018 women and men all over the country have celebrated the centenary of first votes for women and the first women to stand for election to parliament. With the statue of Millicent Fawcett we’ve also seen a woman commemorated in Parliament Square for the first time. But as the year draws to a close women’s representation remains stalled, and government has missed the opportunity to act to remove the barriers to women’s representation. Enacting Section 106 of the Equality Act for example is a small, simple step that government has refused to take.

“The women who campaigned for the vote left a lasting legacy for all of us. The challenge to government today is what will your legacy be? Despite all the great celebrations and activity this year, to date it adds up to a missed opportunity to effect lasting change.”

This year, Fawcett has carried out extensive research and campaigning on the representation of women at all levels of government. 

In our Strategies of Success report we found that in 2018 women and other traditionally marginalised groups face obstacles at each stage of the political process and that party gatekeepers play a pivotal role at every stage.

Our Sex and Power report highlights how women are still significantly under-represented in positions of power. Our data suggests that women are still being systematically excluded from the institutions which govern our public and political life and from the most powerful private sector corporations. Some women, for example, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women, or disabled women, are even less likely to be represented. 

In October we published our report Where are the women? The cost to the West Midlands looking at local government and representation. It turns out the inequality extends to every sector. Gender of social care workers in the midlands is 83% women and 17% men.

The picture is bleak but we’re working to change things. Join us today to be part of that change, or sign up to our mailing list to keep supporting Fawcett and our vital research.