Politics is dominated by men. This is not a controversial statement, it is a fact. However, women make up half the population in the UK, so why isn’t this reflected in our government? Katherine Hockley spoke to Frances Scott, founder of the 50:50 Parliament campaign, to discuss this issue and the campaign that is trying to make a change and work towards gender equality in parliament.
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has asked corporations to include a certain number of women on their boards because it benefits business. He has set them a target, but he has not told them how to go about it. It is the same with 50:50 Parliament. We have an aspiration and set a target of around 50% women in Parliament but we are not telling Parliament how to do it. We are asking Party Leaders to debate and decide on the best solution. Like Vince Cable, 50:50 Parliament wants women to be included; sooner rather than later, one way or another.
How many petition signatures are you aiming for and what happens when you reach your goal?
We are aiming for at least 100,000 signatures because then it is possible that this might be debated in the House of Commons.
Why do you think this change is important?
Many reasons – where do I start? There are loads of them on the petition and they are fantastic!
These are some the reasons why I think it is crucial:
I think highly of women, their abilities and experience. Statistically we are not making the most of our nation’s collective resources if women account for less than around 50% of MPs. As Hillary Clinton says “Women are the world’s most underused resource.”
And as Ngaire Woods, Professor at Oxford Uni, says: “We know that when women are in parliament…it builds more resilient, responsive, better informed institutions.” The evidence is overwhelming.
Women’s lives have changed radically over the last century; there has been fantastic and amazing liberation. These changes have significant ramifications for our society. It is crucial that women are involved at a strategic, governmental level to consider the impact of these changes and be fully involved in formulating the strategies that address the consequences.
Then last but by no means least, it is a question of justice. Women are the majority. The best people to represent women are women. It is unjust that they are a minority when it comes to running the country and forging legislation for the future. Professor Claire Annesley and Professor Francesca Gains have said the same.
The National Student, Katherine Hockley, 3rd June 2014