After six consecutive proposals drawn up by the British Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee, the British government still refuses to accept the committee’s plea for more female representation in Parliament.
Men make up about 70 percent of parliament members. In addition to fostering a more gender-inclusive government, the proposal also suggests that fines should be implemented against parties that fail to include an equal balance of men and women. This may seem like an unnecessary measure, but the committee has, unfortunately, run out of options.
Marcia Miller, Chairman of the Women and Equalities Committee, says she was disappointed by the way her government was “content to sit on its hands with an approach.” This laissez-faire attitude, in her opinion, has not yielded any kind of progressive results.
The UK ranks 40th in female governmental representation, and this is not the first women’s group to call attention the gender representation issue. In Liverpool, the Women’s Leadership Group recently wrote to their regional cabinet about the absence of women on their council.
In addition to the fine, the Women and Equalities Committee has also proposed a legislation that would force parties to meet a minimum quota of 45 percent female members by 2030.
After rejecting their request, the British government responded, saying that while women’s issues are “an important aim,” government officials were not completely convinced that legislation to enforce representation was the proper approach.
“The government shares the committee’s view that political parties have primary responsibility for ensuring that women come forward to represent them and are put in positions from which they can win seats.” They continued, “The government does not support quotas set out in legislation, and therefore does not agree that sanctions should be introduced.”
This response shows a complete lack of understanding of gender politics and the difficulties women deal with when running for office.
Sophie Walker, a leader for the Women’s Equality Party, was hurt by the decision, commenting, “By rejecting every one of the women and equalities committee’s recommendations, the government has let all women down and continues to stifle true democracy in which all voices are heard.”
The fact is that an unbalanced parliament does not reflect or represent its people. The women’s committee will continue to fight and oppose unfair rulings in the name of equality. After all, what other choice do they have?
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