House of Commons Library

Women in Parliament and Government

Published Monday, February 27, 2017

191 women MPs were elected at the 2015 General Election, 29% of all MPs and a record high. Prior to 1987 women had never been more than 5% of MPs. 456 women have been elected to the Commons since 1918, surpassing the current number of male MPs.

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This briefing sets out key statistics for women in Parliament and other elected bodies in the UK.

Parliament

191 women MPs were elected at the 2015 General Election, 29% of all MPs and a record high.

211 women, 26%, are Members of the House of Lords.

Devolved Legislatures

Just over one-third (35%) of members in the Scottish Parliament are women, compared to just over two-fifths (42%) of members of National Assembly for Wales and 28% of Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

UK MEPs

Following the 2014 European Parliament elections, women are 40% of UK MEPs.

Local Government councillors

32% of local authority councillors in England are women, as of 2013. In Scotland, 24% of councillors are women. Women hold 26% of council seats in Wales. In Northern Ireland 25% of councillors are women.

Women MPs since 1918

Since 1918, 456 women have been elected as Members of the House of Commons. In 1918 Constance Markievicz became the first women to be elected as an MP though, elected for Sinn Féin, she did not take her seat. Nancy Astor was the first women to take a seat in the House of Commons, in 1919. The total number of women to have been elected to the House since 1918 has now surpassed the number of men (454) elected in the current Parliament.

Women ministers

Currently there are eight women in the Cabinet (including the Prime Minister) which is 35% of 23 Cabinet posts.

Margaret Bondfield was the first ever woman appointed to Cabinet, in 1929; Margaret Thatcher became the UK’s first woman Prime Minister in 1979, and Theresa May the second in 2016.

 

 

Commons Briefing papers SN01250

Authors: Richard Keen; Richard Cracknell; Vyara Apostolova

Topics: Elections, Equality, House of Commons, House of Lords, Members of Parliament, Members of the Lords, Ministers, Parliament

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