Counting Women In. Equality = Good Politics
It is now almost 40 years since the Sex Discrimination Act was passed, and over 80 since women got the right to vote equally with men, yet women, still, are all too often missing from politically powerful positions in the UK.
And at the current rate of progress, a child born today will be drawing her pension before she has any chance of being equally represented in the Parliament of her country.
This report is about the representation of women in politics and public decision-making in Britain, and it follows on from a series of such reports published first by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and then by its successor, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
All of them have found the same thing. Britain is a country run largely by men.
The Counting Women In coalition, which came together in the wake of the absence of visible women in the 2010 general election campaign, believes that the exclusion of women from positions of power damages the interests of both women and men, as well as the country as a whole.
Women are a majority (51 percent)* of the population, but power is concentrated in the hands of a minority. What applies to politics applies to other areas as well. We looked at most of the fields which could be described as coming within the definition ‘public life’ – in other words, areas which either raise or spend public money (e.g. health), which make fundamental decisions about individual lives (e.g. the courts) or which influence or affect our national culture (e.g. the media). In almost all of them the over-representation
of men is evident; in some the absence of women is marked. Even in trades and professions in which women predominate as employees they are often hard to find at the top, and, as research conducted by the Guardian in January 2013 shows, both the parliamentary lobby and its editors are heavily male.†
Our research found that:
• Progress towards parity in Britain’s democratic institutions continues to be painfully slow;
• 22.5 percent of MPs are women, 21.7 percent of peers and 17.4 percent of the Cabinet;
Sex and Power was researched and written by the Centre for Women & Democracy on behalf of the Counting Women In coalition (CfWD, the Electoral Reform Society, the Fawcett Society, the Hansard Society and Unlock Democracy). It was generously funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
Both the title and some historic data have been used by kind permission of the Equality and Human Rights Commission