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Fri, 25 September 2020

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Britain elects highest-ever number of female MPs to the Commons

Britain elects highest-ever number of female MPs to the Commons
3 min read

A record number of women will sit in the next Parliament after a third of seats were handed to female MPs in the general election.


In total, 219 women were elected, a slight increase on the 209 women that were elected in the 2017 vote.

The election also saw a record number of female candidates, with 1,124 women running. 

The new record comes exactly 100 years after Nancy Astor became the first female MP to take her seat in the Commons in 1919.

In total, 431 seats went to male candidates, bumping the UK up from 39th to 35th in global rankings for gender balance in parliament.

Women did not make up more than one in 10 MPs in the UK until 1997, when the Labour landslide doubled the number of MPs from 60 in 1992 to 120.

Today, Labour now has more female representatives than male, a record 104 women MPs, while two-thirds of Liberal Democrat MPs are now women. 

The Conservatives, however, have fallen behind with only a quarter of seats taken by women.

This is despite the Tories putting up a party record of 194 candidates for the 2019 general election.

Research published on openDemocracy suggests the low number of female Tory MPs may be due to the majority of safe seats going to male candidates.

The Tories now have 86 female MPs, an increase on the 67 female MPs it had after the 2017 election.

And, Labour has elected 104 women to parliament, a slight drop from the record high of 119 women it elected in 2017.

Seven of the Liberal Democrats’ 11 MPs are female, but party leader Jo Swinson is not one of them, having lost her Dunbartonshire East seat.

But, the leader of the Women's Equality Party Mandu Reid said the record increase wasn't much cause for celebration. 

She said: "It is difficult to celebrate a meagre one percent increase when at the same time parliament has lost talented female MPs from across the political spectrum because of its failure to tackle abuse head on.”

“In a year when record numbers of women stood for parliament we should have been able to expect more progress towards the goal of 50:50 representation.

"The fact that women’s representation has only gone up by one percentage point shows that women are still being driven into less winnable seats."

Ms Reid also said continued cooperation between women of different parties was needed to counterbalance "the threat that a majority Conservative government poses to women’s rights".

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