Women still badly under-represented as parliamentary candidates

By staff writers
May 3, 2010

Women are still being marginalised in Westminster parliamentary politics, according to findings released by the Centre for Women and Democracy (CFWD).

The Centre has just released data on the larger political parties and the percentage of female candidates they are fielding at the UK General Election on 6 May 2010.

Even the 'winner' of the comparison has less than a third women candidates, however.

The report also examines where the political parties are fielding women candidates, and also looks at the incidence of women as Independents, and as candidates for the smaller parties. It includes figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The CFWD survey shows that the Green Party is ahead of the pack, with 33 per cent of its candidates being women. Labour comes second with 30 per cent, closely followed by the Scottish National Party with 29 per cent and the Conservatives with 24 per cent. Surprisingly, perhaps, the Liberal Democrats have the lowest proportion of women candidates of any of the larger parties, with 21 per cent.

The Centre for Women and Democracy has additionally predicted that the percentage of women in the next parliament will not reach 25 per cent.

In the last Westminster parliament it was 19.5 per cent - a figure that is actually lower than Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

In Northern Ireland, none of the Democratic Unionist Party's 16 candidates are women, but 33 per cent of those standing for the Alliance are.

In Wales, 18 per cent of Plaid Cymru's candidates are women.

Women are most likely to stand for election representing one of the larger parties, and much less likely to stand as an Independent (11 per cent). Twenty per cent of candidates for very small or so-called 'fringe' parties are women.

The Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, who is running for parliament in Brighton Pavilion, where she is tipped by pollsters and bookies to become the first Green MP and the only current female leader of a political party in Westminster, commented: "I'm pleased that in the constituency where I am standing, voters are guaranteed a woman as their next MP."

She added: "We have come a long way in Britain, but we still have a long way to go. If I am fortunate enough to become the MP, I will fight hard to make it easier for more women to get elected to parliament."

Ms Lucas, a mother of two, has previously campaigned for the Fawcett Society over Equal Pay and maternity rights.

She said: "The Greens are committed to real gender equality, and we believe we have the strongest equality policies of any party, including ensuring that 40 per cent of board members are women, encouraging more women to get involved with politics and closing the disgraceful pay-gap that still exists between men and women doing the same job."

Read the full report here (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat format): http://www.cfwd.org.uk/uploads/pdfs/WomenCandidatesApril2010.pdf


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