MPs call for end to Westminster ‘political gender gap’ on anniversary of women winning right to stand to be MPs

  • Video report by ITV News reporter Martha Fairlie

A cross-party group of MPs has called for political parties to publish the number of women they put forward for election to end the “diversity deficit” in Parliament.

Several senior politicians signed a letter urging the UK Government to enact Section 106 of the Equality Act (2010) that would ensure parties reported their gender gap among election candidates.

The call comes in the week marking 100 years since women first gained the right to stand for election to the House of Commons.

Since the introduction of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act there have only been 491 female MPs – just 50 more than the number of men currently sitting in Parliament.

In Britain just one in three politicians are a woman.

Amber Rudd stands with aspiring woman from their constituencies. Credit: ITV News

Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and SNP MP Hannah Bardell were among the politicians to add their name to the letter.

Organisations and individuals including Dr Helen Pankhurst, Centenary Action Group, the Fawcett Society, Women’s Aid and the Electoral Reform Society have all campaigned for Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt to implement Section 106.

The Suffragettes fought for 50 years for women to get the vote. Credit: PA

Earlier, a panel of former MPs gave evidence to the Commons Women and Equalities Committee about their experiences in political life that exposed the toxic culture at Westminster.

Despite the report hearing accounts of "awful" allegations of abuse and harassment, from MPs, an ex-Labour MP insisted women should still stand for Parliament.

Gemma Doyle said she was targeted with a "pretty disgusting comment" and received "inappropriate attention" while in the Commons, but they were "isolated instances".

But she told the committee: "I regret that I feel there's a bit of a narrative building up that this is a terrible place for women to come and work, either to be MPs or staff, and in general I don't think that's the case".

On Wednesday, MPs, including Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, gathered at Westminster alongside aspiring woman from their constituencies in a bid to encourage more women into politics.

They unveiled banners in the Suffragette colours of blue and purple with '50:50 Parliament' and 'Ask Her To Stand'.

Speaking to ITV News, Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the British suffragette movement said:this is a really important moment, it feels celebratory but also it's a statement about how much we still need to do."

The UK is ranked only 38th in the world for female representation; 32% of MPs in the House of Commons are women.