The lack of female political representation: Who represents me?

“It will be really hard for you to get into politics, because you are a woman”. Having an MP tell you this at the age of 15 certainly highlights the fact that there is still a lot of inequality and sexism when it comes to women and roles of leadership.

In 1918 women got the vote, in 1919 Nancy Astor became the first female MP, in 1979 Margret Thatcher was elected the first female prime minister, and over the past few decades there have been numerous equality acts. So why is there still inequality for women?

With UKIP’s MEP Godfrey Bloom calling a group of women ‘sluts’ and asking why a business would ever hire “a lady of child-bearing age” makes you question the continuous propaganda that sexism no longer exists, and that women have exactly the same opportunities as men when it comes to work.

Did you know that the average age of an MP is 50 and that there are only 147 female MPs (22.5%)? Is this true representation of the UK population?

In the last general elections only 39% of women aged 18-24 voted. This is such an acute problem that there are even organisations like Challenge 39% which has been set up to help encourage women into roles of leadership and to vote in the 2015 elections. Is it a case of young women feeling that there is no one who can adequately represent them, and so don’t bother voting?

Where do we stand internationally? Well, no surprises, we are lagging behind. As an economically developed country it is surprising and shocking to see that countries that we would regard as LEDC’s have more women in roles of leadership than us.

Amongst the countries in the G20, a large number of them have more female MPs than we do, including China, Italy and Australia. As well as this more Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Finland and Sweden all have over 40% of women in their parliament. South America is also currently leading by example as countries like Argentina have over 37% of female MPs.

The average global participation rate of women in parliaments is around 20%, even though women account for nearly 50% of the world population. Perhaps it is time that this ongoing problem is properly addressed. Forget ‘positive’ discrimination and All Women Shortlists, we need to focus on education. Through teaching young people especially young women about politics, they may be more likely to consider it as a future career in later life. It is time that things change, so that we don’t have to wait 200 years until we have an equal number of Male and Female MPs in the Commons.

By Yasmin Rufo

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