Sex imbalance in politics remains 'bad news' for young women

By agency reporter
December 17, 2019

The Young Women's Trust has called on the new Parliament to urgently address the damaging sex imbalance in politics that is "holding back" and hurting those furthest from power. 

Even though a record 220 women MPs have been elected, up from 208 at the 2017 election, the overall proportion of female MPs is stubbornly low with women still only making up just over a third (33.85 per cen)t of MPs.

This lack of equal representation in the new Parliament will continue to harm our democracy and blight the lives of young women overlooked by policy makers who do not understand their needs, says the Trust

Sophie Walker, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said: "For the first time women MPs outnumber men in the Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentary parties. And the new Conservative government, the only political party to have had female Prime Ministers, has increased its female MPs from 67 to 87, a rise of 30 per cent. 

"For the first time women MPs outnumber men in the Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentary parties. And the new Conservative government, the only political party to have had female Prime Ministers, has increased its female MPs from 67 to 87, a rise of 30 per cent.  It is also encouraging to see a number of women MPs under the age of 30, including Conservative MP for Hyndburn Sara Britcliffe, 24,  and Nadia Whittome MP for Labour in Nottingham, 23.

"However, young women are still few and far between and while the overall increase of women MPs is welcome, it is happening at an unacceptably slow pace. At this rate it will take until 2055 – an entire generation – before we reach parity in politics and reflect our population adequately. 

"The imbalance is especially striking in the Conservative Party which has under a quarter of women MPs in total and put forward very low numbers of female candidates for target seats (29 per cent) or safe seats (37 per cent) in this election. 

"Young women cannot afford to wait. They are rightly impatient for change. They have told us that we need to do politics differently, with elected representatives who look and sound like them and have a genuine commitment to engage with young women who have been hardest hit by austerity and whose voices have been marginalised.  

"We can only rebuild from the ground up, and that means listening to voices on the ground. Many of those who feel they have been cast aside are working with or have themselves become community activists providing local solutions. Those typically seen by politicians as a problem are in fact the best problem-solvers you could ask for. Their creativity, experience and knowledge are golden. Their solutions can provide solutions for everyone.

From today politicians – whatever their sex, whatever their age – must do much more to ensure young women's voices are heard and to end the abuse and harassment that puts so many women off participating or speaking publicly about politics. Until everyone can be heard, our democracy is diminished."

* Young Women's Trust https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/

[Ekk/4]

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