In the last 99 years, only 456 women have been elected to the House of Commons.
Think about that.
Since 1918, when the first woman MP sat in the House of Commons, only 455 more have made it through those hallowed doors to represent the people of this country.
Meanwhile, in recent elections, the number of women turning out to vote has been significantly lower than the number of men. The 1992 election was the last recorded time that women had a higher turn-out and the figure has been in decline ever since.
Last time round 66% of women voted compared to 67% of men, which doesn’t seem like a huge difference. However, the number of missing female votes has risen by 78% since 1992 which is quite a shocking figure.
Women, especially young women, get a lot of grief for not voting because women in the late 19th and early 20th century went through so much to get us the right to vote at all. Society seems to think we care more about our make-up and Instagram feeds than what is actually happening or who is running the country.
Yet research has suggested that young women are failing to vote not because they are uninterested or ignorant but because they feel that they are unrepresented by Parliament.
Record number of female candidates
So it is pleasing to hear that in this General Election there are a record number of female candidates standing and, no, they aren’t all inspired by PM Theresa May’s footwear.
Before 1919 a female MP was unheard of. Now for the second time we have a woman running the country as well as women leading some of the main political parties in the UK.
In this election there are 956 female candidates. The Labour Party is paving the way with 40.4% of its candidates female, closely followed by the Greens with 34.8%. The Conservatives have 28% while the Lib Dems have 29% and the SNP is made up of 32% female candidates.
What are the parties offering?
But it’s one thing to have women running for election and another to engage us in politics. So what are all of the parties actually offering that might encourage women to get to the polling stations?
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised a “government for women” and is hoping to have a Cabinet balanced equally between the sexes. The party, which has never had a female leader, hopes to fight misogyny and inequality by placing women in positions of authority and ensuring they have a say on all policies.
While it is so very kind of them to let women have a say on political issues nearly 100 years after we were given the right to vote, why does this need to be said? Surely the opinion of women should be considered, this isn’t a groundbreaking idea in any way.
Labour has promised to extend the 30 hours of free childcare to include two-year-olds, double paid paternity leave, ensure rights for safe and legal abortions and provide constant funding rape crisis centres.
Under the “strong and stable leadership” of Theresa May women will be helped to get back to work after having babies with £5m invested in “returnships” that will help enhance CVs.
The Conservatives, too, will introduce 30 hours of free childcare and plan to help more primary schools develop nurseries. The party also hopes to create a domestic violence and abuse commissioner, which will stand up for survivors while ensuring that victims will be able to leave abusive relationships by reviewing funding for refugees.
‘it is so very kind of them to let women have a say on political issues nearly 100 years after we were given the right to vote’
The Lib Dems have made it quite clear that while their priority is opposing Brexit, they are still looking out for us girls. They hope to end period-poverty by providing free sanitary products in schools, promote positive body image in schools and transform mental health for pregnant women and new mothers who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth.
Like the other main parties, they hope to provide childcare but this time it’s only 15 hours free childcare for all working parents with kids aged between nine months and two years but with a goal to work towards 30 hours.
The Green Party, who have a strong squad of female MPs, hope to ensure fair pensions for women, fix the gender pay gap and remove abortions from the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act in order to have it treated like any other medical procedure. The party, too, hopes to combat sexual abuse and protect the right to return to work from maternity leave while mirroring the Lib Dems promise of free sanitary towels in schools.
Creating more policies around women’s issues suggests the parties are recognising they need to do more to capture the female vote.
Now let’s hope we are on the way to a future of women representing women in what continues to be a very male-dominated political world.