This month Theresa May became the second woman to become the Prime Minister of Britain, have we finally said goodbye to the old boys club in politics?
A lot has changed in the last hundred years for women and politics has been no exception. There are more women than ever before in politics and positions of power. Nicola Sturgeon is the current First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party. Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party and Leanne Wood is the leader of Plaid Cymru. At present, there are 192 women sitting as Members of Parliament and there are 205 women in the House of Lords. Female representation and attitudes in the political establishment are clearly improving. Theresa May becoming our Prime Minister is clearly marking that trend, not creating it.
New methods of political participation have also resulted in women ensuring that their voices are heard. The #EndTamponTax is an example of a successful campaign, which began on an e-petition site. The petition was created by Laura Coryton and called for the UK Government to stop classifying sanitary products as a luxury and taxing them as such. The #EndTamponTax petition has attracted over 300,000 signatures and snowballed into a global movement, with similar campaigns being set up in the US and Canada. New ways of engaging with politics has helped women come together and discuss the issues that affect them and give them the opportunity to push for change.
The recent success of the Women’s Equality Party highlights a shift in politics.
The party was set up in 2015 with the ethos of “Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself.”
The Women’s Equality Party received more the 350,000 votes in the London Mayoral race. This translates to 1 in 20 Londoners picking the party on the ballot paper, highlighting that people care about gender inequality.
Despite these achievements, women are still very much underrepresented in Parliament. The number of female MPs in comparison to male MPs is nowhere near reflecting society – women make up more than half of Britain’s population. And when you look at the statistics for women of colour in British politics the figures are even more alarming.
It is important to recognise how far we have come, but we need to do more than make cracks in the glass ceiling…. we need to make it all come crashing down.