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Women's representation in British politics tumbling down global league table

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Women's representation in British politics tumbling down global league table

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Local Government

Women's representation in British politics tumbling down global league table Women's representation in British politics tumbling down global league table

The number of women in authoritative positions in British politics has tumbled in the last 13 years, a new report has revealed.

According to the 'Counting Women In’ coalition's study - 'Sex and Power 2014' - Britain's women have fallen from 33rd on the global league table in 2001, to 62nd in 2010, to 65th in 2014.

Currently, only 22% of cabinet ministers are women; only 23% are members of parliament; and only 23% are members of the House of Lords.

And the situation is even worse in local government. A mere 13.1% of council leaders are women, a 3.5% decline since 2004.

Counting Women In says that the 2015 election represents a "big opportunity" for Britain's political parties to "make progress".

The Labour Party is currently fielding women in 53.5% of target and retirement seats. The Liberal Democrats are second with 40.5%, and the Conservative Party is third with 34.5%.

“If we really care about who has political power in this country we need to do something about the unrepresentative nature of our elected institutions," said Nan Sloane, director of the Centre for Women & Democracy and author of the report.

She added: "Sex & Power 2014 shows a shocking absence of women from powerful roles in Britain, with very little improvement since last year. Along with other excluded groups women have already waited for generations for equal access to power, and we’re still being asked to wait decades to achieve it. That’s not good enough; we need real change now.”

To address the issues, the report recommends that:

• All political parties should take (or continue to take) immediate action to increase the number of women candidates at all levels of election, using positive action if necessary.
• Election authorities should use monitoring forms so voters gain a "much better understanding" of who is and isn’t standing for election.
• The media should ensure that their coverage of political issues includes women and their views, treats all contributors with the dignity and respect to which they are entitled, and accords with the Code of Conduct published by the National Union of Journalists.

The report is a result of a collaboration between the Fawcett Society, the Hansard Society, the Electoral Reform Society, the Centre for Women and Democracy and Unlock Democracy, who came together in 2011 to form the Counting Women In coalition to address the lack of women in politics.

The group believes the under representation of women in Westminster, the devolved assemblies, and town halls around the UK represents a "democratic deficit that undermines the legitimacy of decisions made in these chambers".

Dr Ruth Fox, director of the Hansard Society said: “At best it looks like there will be only a modest improvement in the number of women in parliament after next year’s general election and the UK will continue to drift down the international league tables.

"But if the political parties, the government and the media are really serious about tackling this issue then the realistic, practical steps we have outlined could still be implemented in the coming months to improve the culture of politics and the general election campaign.”

Alexandra Runswick, chief executive of Unlock Democracy, said: “It is deeply disappointing that while other countries make progress in improving the representation of women in public life the UK falls even further behind. Our democracy and public life is weaker because it misses the skills experience and talents of over half the population.

"The lack of female involvement in UK politics is a particularly visible example of how the system fails to represent people more widely. It is not enough to recognise the problem and simply hope that things will improve; we need Parliament and politicians to take urgent action."

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