Molly Shanahan | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 25 May 2017

7.5 Million People Won\\\'t Be Able To Vote For A Woman This June, And We\\\'re Shocked

This Is Why 7.5 Million People Won't Be Able To Vote For A Woman This Election

The Debrief: There are over 100 constituencies in the UK without a female candidate, and we want to know why.

Politics is yet another area where we find a gender gap. Whether it’s the fact that women are 2.5% less likely to vote than men or that 8 million women say they are uncertain to vote in the upcoming elections. So, why are women historically less inclined to be politically active? Perhaps the answer is simple: we’re not as visible as men in political public life.  

Recent statistics from the BBC have painted a worrying picture of inequality in British politics, with more than 100 constituencies across the UK having no female candidate on the ballot. This means that a huge 7.5 million people simply will not be able to vote for a woman in the upcoming June elections. 

Northern Ireland is the only nation in the UK to have a female candidate in every constituency and when looking at historic data, this makes for a refreshing change. There are a huge number of constituencies where no female candidates have stood for the last seven years, including Colchester, Kenilworth & Southam and Newcastle-under-Lyme, showing that this is an issue embedded deep into our political culture.  

 In the rest of the UK, the landscape is similarly as bleak; there are six seats in Wales and five seats in Scotland without a woman on the ballot. When you consider that there is just one seat in the whole of the UK where the opposite of this is true, (in Glasgow Central four women are the only people running for parliament), these stats become even more startling.   

London came out on top in terms of female representation with only 8 per cent of seats not providing the option of voting for a woman, but surely that’s not the best we can hope for in terms of political equality? 

Overall, these stats make sense, just 29% of MPs are female, which means that the UK sits at 36th position for women’s representation globally (behind several European, and many Latin American and African countries), so the real question is why are these positions less attractive or even available to women? 

With the brutal murder of Labour MP Jo Cox just a year ago, the danger facing female politicians is very real. It's also well documented that many women MPs receive torrents of abuse online. However, the threat of physical violence or harm is not the only obstacle women in these positions face. Coupled with violence, workplace sexism and discrimination is still a huge issue for women in political roles. In fact, in a study carried out by BBC 5 Live, almost 2/3 of female MPs said that they had received sexist comments from fellow workers or MPs. It’s hardly surprising that a political role would be unattractive and unattainable for women if they are facing discrimination and prejudice from both sides, not just the people they work with, but also those they represent. 

 It’s too easy for some to be able to dismiss these statistics, appealing to history based on the traditionally male-dominated world of politics. However, if we are to continue having such a hugely unequal gender balance at the very top, then how are we ever meant to establish gender equality in the laws we pass, the institutions we’re a part of and the behaviour of those around us?

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Tags: Politics, Feminism