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All-women shortlists

Published Monday, March 7, 2016

This note looks at the background to the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002 which allowed political parties to draw up all-women shortlists of candidates for elections; and its extension. It gives details of Labour candidates selected through all-women shortlists and methods of positive action used by the main political parties to increase the number of women MPs.

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      "Since 1918, when women were first able to stand as Members of Parliament, only 291 women have been elected, but during the same period 4,363 men were elected. If it was possible to put all the women who have been elected into the House of Commons today, they would still be in the minority."

Baroness Gale, House of Lords, 30 October 2008

 

Since Baroness Gale made those comments two general elections and a number of by-elections have intervened: 450 women have been elected to the House of Commons since 1918.

This Note provides some information on the use of all-women shortlists by the Labour Party and reviews approaches adopted by other political parties to increase the number of women candidates and elected representatives.

This note looks at the background to the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002 which allowed political parties to draw up all-women shortlists of candidates for elections.  The Act included a “sunset clause” – the Act would have expired at the end of 2015, unless extended.

The Equality Act 2010 extended the period in which all-women shortlists may be used until 2030.

Commons Briefing papers SN05057

Authors: Richard Kelly; Isobel White

Topics: Elections, Equality, General elections, Members of Parliament, Parliament, Political parties, Sex discrimination

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