Call for parties to reveal ‘political gender gap’ after companies submit pay figures

By agency reporter
April 6, 2018

Campaigners are calling on the government to enact a crucial piece of legislation which would ensure parties reported their ‘gender gap’ among election candidates.

With the deadline for large companies to reveal their gender pay gap having passed, the ERS are calling on the government to "look closer to home" and reveal levels of political inequality in future elections.

Section 106 of the Equality Act – which is already in law but needs enacting – would require parties to publish the demographic makeup of their election candidates as the first step towards tackling the gender gap in politics and to improve diversity. 

Currently just 32 per cent of MPs and 33 per cent of local councillors in the UK are women. 

Campaigners are demanding greater transparency around who is standing as candidates at elections to the UK Parliament and local authorities, as well as to devolved administrations.

They say the information would provide an invaluable resource for those seeking gender equality and increase the accountability of parties and their branches up and down the country – creating positive competition.

Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society, said, “Now that companies have revealed their gender pay gaps, it’s time UK parties tackled the inequality in their own back yards. We’ve seen businesses play their part – now government and political parties must play theirs in showing their diversity figures.

“Much like the gender pay gap, political inequality is holding back progress in this country.

“The Women and Equalities Committee has already called for Section 106 of the Equality Act (2010) to be enacted to tackle this problem. The government’s refusal to act on this legislation runs against their commitment to open government.”

In its response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s 2017 report on women in the House of Commons, the government cited concerns about the “potential regulatory burden” of enacting the regulations.

It added it would “continue the process of engaging with the parties to ensure greater transparency … rather than imposing legislative requirements through section 106 of the Equality Act.” 

Jess Garland added, “The government appears to be imagining obstacles where they do not exist. Political parties are best placed to know who they are standing in elections.

“The legislation is ready and there is widespread support for this change to be made. The sooner it is enacted, the sooner the UK’s shameful political gender gap can be bridged.”

The Electoral Reform Society is a member of the Centenary Action Group which is campaigning for women’s participation in politics to mark the 2018 centenary of the first women’s votes in the UK. 

* Electoral Reform Society https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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