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Call for political parties to publish gender gap data

This news post is almost 6 years old

Little known law should be enacted to ensure greater equality

Campaigners are calling for political parties to report the gender gap among election candidates on the 90th anniversary of equal voting rights for women.

At the start of the government’s National Democracy week (2-8 July), the Centenary Action Group, a coalition of over 100 campaigners and activists are demanding Section 106 of the Equality Act – which is already in law but needs enacting – be implemented.

This 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.

On 2 July 1928 women were granted equal voting rights to men, ten years after property owning women over 30 were given the right to vote in the UK for the first time. However, currently just 32% of MPs and 33% of local councillors in the UK are women.

In a statement, the Electoral Reform Society and the Centenary Action Group said: “There is currently a lack of information published around the diversity of candidates and elected representatives. It is vitally important that this information is publicly available to allow us to monitor progress and identify areas where representation needs to be improved.

“As such we call on the Penny Mordaunt, equalities minister, to commit to enacting of section 106 of the Equality Act 2010.

“This would cover the publication of information pertaining to candidates selected for an election by each political party, candidates successfully elected and those that fail to be elected. This should include elections to the UK parliament as well as to devolved administrations across the UK.”

The campaigners 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.

Much like the gender pay gap, political inequality is holding back progress in this country - Jess Garland

They also want the UK government to consider extending the requirement for information on selection and election to local government elections.

Jess Garland, director of policy and research at the Electoral Reform Society, said: “On the 90th anniversary of equal suffrage, it is a sad fact that no clear way of knowing where we stand in terms of women’s representation in politics.

“Now that companies have revealed their gender pay gaps, it’s time UK parties tackled the inequality in their own back yards.

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

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.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society added: “Our parliament trails many others in the world for women’s representation.

“We cannot create a modern, inclusive, gender equal parliament unless we do the basics and capture data on the diversity of candidates.”