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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.

In this cross-post from Operation Black Vote, Ashlea Williams casts a spotlight on Sunny Dhadley, a participant on the West Midlands Civic Leadership Programme and new member of the Wolverhampton Policing and Crime Board


Here at OBV we are currently in the middle of yet another of our award-winning mentoring and shadowing scheme this one covering Birmingham and Wolverhampton with the West Midlands Civic Leadership Programme, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. One particular go-getting member amidst an already elite group of 40 individuals is Sundeep Dhadley who has, it would seem, a finger in every pie and has managed to garner himself a position as the newest member and Third Sector representative of the new Policing and Crime Board in Wolverhampton.


Dhadley’s new role will mean he is directly involved in how the board set their policing priorities and he hopes to be able to address the deficit of BME viewpoints in this decision making arena. He was inspired to apply whilst sitting on another strategic board, which fed into him being recommended for this newly established one.


Sunny, as he prefers to be called, has been extremely active on the Civic Leadership Programme. He, along with other members of the programme, volunteered to help with Neena Gill’s campaign for re-election as an MEP to gain an insight into campaigning. He says he feels privileged to have been present as Gill herself explained a little about her political journey and how the role of MEP directly affects people’s lives often in ways they may not realise and how laws and legislation at the European level get handed down to Britain. He expressed a desire to eventually become an MEP and contribute to bringing long-term sustainable change to the UK and it appears to be a fully realisable dream as he shows no signs of stopping.


All this is in addition to being a full time member of OBV’s Civic Leadership Programme for the West Midlands to whom Sunny attributes his achievements for the opportunities it has afforded him. He is rubbing shoulders with MPs and Councillors and acknowledges that without OBV, it would’ve been difficult to gain such exposure and would not have been as simple to open doors to initial contact opportunities. Sunny is always asking insightful questions, a quality that has been noted by his mentors and peers alike and has brought him into the recognition of people of influence. He encourages all of us to follow his example and take the initiative. He said,

Do not be afraid to put your head above the parapet and do not worry if you don’t understand at first – ask until you do.“

The last thing Sunny insisted that I do was to thank OBV for the opportunity invested in him and that he remains eager and is looking forward to continuing to soak up all knowledge as he embarks on his Councillor shadowing of the leader of the Council in Wolverhampton, Councillor Roger Lawrence. Well done Sunny, you are a model for us all.