UK government failing on female representation

The government has rejected all six recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee for improving women’s representation in the House of Commons.

In the last Parliament, the committee suggested that the government set a domestic target of 45 per cent for representation of women in Parliament and local government by 2030, as well as introduce in legislation a statutory minimum proportion of female parliamentary candidates in General Elections for each political party, among other recommendations.

While Downing Street has said that a ‘gender-balanced Parliament’ is long overdue, it has said that ‘parties need to take the lead in ensuing diverse representations’, but that ‘initiatives need to be developed by the parties in question’.

Committee chair Maria Miller said: "The UK is failing to be a world leader on women’s representation. There are still more than twice as many men as women in the House of Commons: after the 2017 election women still only make up 32 per cent of MPs. This demands a vigorous response across the board but the government has shown it is content to sit on its hands with an approach which has yielded depressingly slow progress so far.

“While political parties bear a great deal of responsibility for increasing women’s representation, the government can make a real difference. The government should be actively promoting transparency and equality of opportunity for women as Parliamentary candidates. In particular, it should bring into force existing legislation requiring parties to publish candidate diversity data: this would give people the data to hold parties to account for their progress – or the lack of it.

“The government’s failure to commit to this - or to accept any of the committee’s other recommendations – shows a complete lack of action and ambition to bring about real change. The early General Election in June means that government, Parliament and political parties have a window of opportunity now, to make the changes that are needed to ensure a more representative group of Members of Parliament are elected at the next General Election."

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