House of Commons Library

Women in Parliament and Government

Published Tuesday, March 5, 2019

This briefing includes latest figures on the proportion of women in Parliament and elected bodies across the UK and throughout the world.

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Summary

UK Parliament and Government

There are 209 women Members of the House of Commons. At 32%, this is an all-time high. The proportion of women grew slowly until the 1990s, as shown in the table below.

Since 1918, 491 women have been elected to the House of Commons; 58% were first elected as Labour MPs and 29% as Conservatives.

There are 206 female Peers – 26% of the Members of the House of Lords.

Five of the current members of the Cabinet (22%) are women, including the Prime Minister. The highest proportion of women in Cabinet was 36% between 2006 and 2007.

Devolved legislatures and local government

47% of Members of the National Assembly for Wales are women, as are 35% of Members of the Scottish Parliament and 32% of Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

About 34% of local authority councillors in England are women. 26% of councillors in Northern Ireland are women, while the proportion rose to 29% in Scotland after the 2017 elections and sits at 28% in Wales.

40% of members of the London Assembly are women.

European Parliament

40% of UK Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in 2018 were women. 36% of all MEPs were women and the UK ranked 8th among the 28 EU member nations.

International comparisons

22 countries currently have a woman as president or prime minister, a record high. At 32%, the UK is in 39th position in the proportion of women in the lower (or only) house of parliament. Rwanda has over 61%, and along with Cuba and Bolivia has a majority of women in parliament.

Commons Briefing papers SN01250

Author: Steven Browning

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

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