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Fawcett Society report on women’s representation in politics finds nothing to cheer about

A new report by the Counting Women In coalition Sex and Power 2014: Who Runs Britain? has found that progress on women’s representation in politics has stalled and in some cases declined.


The coalition – made up of The Fawcett Society, the Hansard Society, the Electoral Reform Society, the Centre for Women and Democracy, and Unlock Democracy – was formed in 2011 to address the lack of women in politics.  They believe the under-representation of women in Westminster, the devolved assemblies, and town halls around the UK represents a democratic deficit which undermines the legitimacy of decisions made in Parliament.  Their aim is to ensure women have an equal presence and voice within our democratic system. The report found that:


  • The 2015 General Election presents the next big opportunity for all parties to make progress.  Fielding women in target and retirement seats is the most reliable way of achieving this.
  • The Labour Party are leading the way with women making up 53.5% of those fielded in target and retirement seats.  The Liberal Democrat Party comes next with 40.5% and the Conservative Party is lagging behind on 34.5%.


In terms of current levels of women’s representation in national politics, women currently comprise only:


  • 22% of Cabinet Ministers
  • 23% of MPs
  • 23% of Members of the House of Lords


Women are also seriously under-represented in local government, particularly in leadership roles.  Only 13.1% of local government leaders are women – a 3.5% decline since 2004. And Britain is falling down the global league tables.  When it comes to women’s representation in politics, we have slipped dramatically from 33rd place in 2001, and 62nd place in 2010, to 65th in 2014. The report’s key recommendations are that:


  • All political parties should take (or continue to take) immediate action to increase the number of women candidates at all levels of election, using positive action if necessary.
  • Election authorities should use monitoring forms so that we can get a much better understanding of who is (and isn’t) standing for election in our democracy.
  • The media should ensure that their coverage of political issues includes women and their views, treats all contributors with the dignity and respect to which they are entitled, and accords with the Code of Conduct published by the National Union of Journalists.