Our Democracy Deserves Better

Jemima Olchawski, Fawcett CEO responds to media misogyny


Fawcett condemns The Mail on Sunday’s sexist and misogynistic article regarding Labour Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner MP. This behaviour cannot be tolerated – as a nation we cannot and should not accept this.

Fawcett has a long history of campaigning for systemic changes to fix Parliament’s culture and make it a more inclusive and diverse workplace – for the benefit of those that work there and for the country as a whole. These changes must be made so that the people in Parliament reflect those who the laws will apply to - this is key to a healthy democracy.  

Sadly though, we know that sexism and misogyny is rife. It is awful that Glen Owen’s ‘sources’ made these misogynistic comments, but the fact it was then turned into a story in the Mail on Sunday highlights the gendered abuse which women MPs often face. Despite over 100 years passing since women first secured the right to vote and the first woman was elected to Parliament, women continue to remain significantly underrepresented. Women make up just 34% of total MPs and women of colour comprise just 10% of all members. The House of Lords is no better – it comprises just 28% women. The harassment and abuse of women in politics and public life is most likely driving some women out of politics while deterring others from coming forward.

Commitments to improve our politics and make it safer for women cannot just be rhetoric – decisive action must be taken.

Numbers do matter

  • The inclusion of women MPs has fundamentally changed the focus of Parliament from the gender pay gap to up-skirting. That is why we are calling for political parties to set targets for increasing women’s representation and a clear achieve them.
  • Whilst we have seen a significant rise in women in national newspaper editor roles, political editors are far less likely to be women – with just two women in these roles across 17 newspapers. We would like to see more women promoted into political editorships, stamping out misogynistic journalism.

Parliament needs to be a safe place to work

  • We are calling for better protections for women working in parliament. The Government must reform the Equality Act so that MPs and Peers have access to the same legal protections against sexual harassment as other employees.  

Cultural change is critical

  • Parliament must maintain its commitment to becoming a workplace that works for people from all backgrounds including those with caring responsibilities. Over the coming months, Fawcett will also be publishing research and accompanying recommendations examining the barriers and resources that affect MPs’ decisions to remain in or leave Parliament.

Women MPs deserve better from their workplace.

Women deserve better.

Our democracy deserves better.

Fawcett is fighting for a fairer deal for all women – but we can’t do it without your support. Join our movement and send the message enough is enough: JOIN FAWCETT