Above: Theresa May, UK Prime Minister
Before the recent UK general election on June 8th, there had already been one victory: the largest percentage of female candidates. The electorate was presented with a combined total of 965 female candidates, representing 29% candidates.
After the ballots were counted, the 2017 election had come out ahead of the 2015 election – which set the previous record for most female MPs elected with 191 women taking their seat in parliament. Following yesterday’s election there are now 207 women in the commons, up from 197.
Overall 32% of MPs are female. By party, Labour has 45% female representation while the Conservatives have just 21%. The Liberal Demoncrats increased their representation triplefold, from 11% to 33%, with four of their twelve seats being filled by women. Among smaller parties at Westminster, the Greens’ have the best percentage representation with their single MP, Caroline Lucas.
All this in less than a hundred years since women were first allowed to stand for Parliament in 1918. Female representation was very low until as late as the 1990s. The proportion of female-held seats doubled in 1997 with 120 female MPs elected, representing 18% of the total. Until this point women had never represented more than a tenth of Parliament.
Whatever your opinion of individual candidates, the results of the UK general election represent a step forward for gender equality.