Friday, 29 February 2008

A review of Women at Westminster for International Women’s Day 8 March

Women were first allowed to stand as MPs at Westminster in 1918. But even now, just under 20 per cent of MPs are women, meaning the politicians who make decisions on our behalf still do not reflect the population as a whole. At the 2005 general election 128 women were elected as MPs. By 2006 the overall number of women MPs fell to 126 (19.6%) after the sad deaths of two women MPs. In Europe the figure of MEPs is 25.6%. In the House of Lords its 19.1%. The Welsh National Asembly has 46.7%, good on them!

Currently the Labour Party has 97 women MPs (27% of the party), the Liberal Democrats 9 women MPs (14% of the party) and the Conservatives 17 (9% of the party).
At the current rate of change, it will take Labour around 20 years to get to 50-50 women and men, the Lib Dems around 40 years and the Conservatives around 400!

Fawcett's ( research has shown that the problem lies mainly with the political parties and their selection procedures. In addition to the discrimination they face, there are four other factors that can prevent women standing for parliament - the 'four Cs' of culture, childcare, cash and confidence. We have also found that positive action, such as all-women shortlists, have proven to be the only reliable way to significantly increase the numbers of women representatives - and this is the case the world over. Fawcett's long-standing campaign to increase the numbers of MPs is based on the fact that as the numbers of women in politics increases, matters of importance to women move further up the political agenda.

According to a recent Labour press release, they have succeeded in making womens representation in Parliament more equal, and accuse the Tories of having 'the same proportion of women MPs as are called David.'

It sounds to me like typical spin, 27% of their party is actually very poor. The greens have 100% of our two MEPs are female MEPs, and 50% of London assembly members female. Our first MP will almost certainly be Caroline Lucas, who is our main target in Brighton.

According to Oxfam, of the billions of people who live on less than $1 a day, 70% are women and girls. It’s International Women’s Day on 8 March, and Oxfam will be sharing stories of women around the world who are fighting against poverty.

And don’t forget, this week and next is Fairtrade Fortnight so get involved!

See also

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