The United Kingdom Elected a Record Number of Women MPs

Supermajority Education Fund

January 9, 2020

The United Kingdom’s House of Commons seated a record number of women MPs as a result of December’s election this week, but the lower chamber still has a gross gender imbalance. The Guardian reports that 220 women won seats in Parliament, which means 34% of Parliament will be women — the largest proportion of women in the body to date.

Of the four biggest parties in Parliament, Labour has the most women MPs: 104 women to 98 men. The Conservative party, which just earned its biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, seated 277 men compared to only 87 women. The members of the ruling party, therefore, are comprised of only a quarter of female MPs.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) seated 32 men and 16 women. The Liberal Democrats have the highest proportion of women MPs at 64%, but they only have seven women to four men. This is the first time Labour and Liberal Democrats seated more women than men.

Boris Johnson will continue to lead the Conservative party, but three women are reportedly up for consideration to lead the Labour party after Jeremy Corbyn confirmed that he would step down. Angela Rayner (pictured), Jess Phillips, and Rebecca Long-Bailey are considered frontrunners for Labour leader, the Guardian reports. When Rayner’s MP win was announced in December, she tweeted, “It’s where my home is and where my family live. I will not let you down.”

The December election followed a wave of women elected to Parliament in 2017 and a steady increase in women elected in every election since 2001 when only 118 women were seated in Parliament.

Beyond making historic gains in gender representation, this class of parliament members in the House of Commons is the most diverse ever elected. Sixty-five MPs elected come from minority backgrounds while at least 45 LGBTQ members have been elected. (That number could increase as final numbers are tallied.) The youngest MP elected is Nadia Whittome of Lamour, who is 23.

However, a 2018 study of Parliament by the Fawcett Society (a British group committed to gender equality in the U.K.), found that encouraging women to run and celebrating their victories is only the first step toward achieving gender equality in Parliament. The study found that there is still “a significant amount of work” to do.

“Our institutions have to change,” Fawcett Society CEO Sam Smethers wrote. “We need the culture and practices in Parliament, in our town halls, and in our political parties to welcome women in. We also need the harassment and abuse of women in politics and public life to end. It is undoubtedly driving some women out of politics and deterring others from coming forward.”