UK gets highest number of female MPs ever - Women's Agenda

UK gets highest number of female MPs ever

It hasn’t been a great 24 hours for British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose massive gamble on calling an early election failed spectacularly, and resulted in her having to form a majority government.

But when it comes to the number of female MPs elected, the news is very good.

At least 208 women are now in the Commons, smashing a number of records in the process, and surpassing the 196 women elected in the previous parliament (including via byelections). 191 were elected at the general election in 2015.

And incredibly, it was only in 2015 that the total number of females ever elected actually surpassed the 454 men in a single parliament, according to The Guardian.

However in 2017, just 32% of all MPs are female. And, like in Australia, there are significant variations in the gender breakdowns between different parties. According to the BBC, 45% of Labour MPs are female, compared with just 21% of Conservatives.

Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers told the BBC that despite the unexpected result, progress has stalled when it comes to female MPs. “Getting more women in cannot be subject to party political fortunes. As we approach the centenary of women first getting to vote in general elections, we cannot wait for another nine elections to achieve equality.”

The first woman ever elected was in 1918 when the the Parliament passed the Qualification of Women Act. Constance Markievicz was a member of Sinn Fein and as such, did not take her seat. For decades, the proportion of women elected continued to be under 5%, before finally reaching double digits in 1987, under Margaret Thatcher, before increased again following Labour’s 1997 victory.

Meanwhile, more than 40 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual parliamentarians also won seats.

 

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