Tuesday, 6 February 2018

100 years of suffrage... but less than a third of our councillors are women

MILESTONE: Some of Solihull's women councillors mark the 100th
anniversary. Photo/Solihull Council.

ONE hundred years on from the change in the law which gave some British women the vote, Solihull is still some way off having a gender-balanced council.
Only 15 out of the 50 elected members who currently make up the local authority are female (30 per cent of the total).
This places the borough slightly below the national average; a study last summer suggested that 33 per cent of councillors in England are women.
Around 12,000 more women need to be elected to achieve a 50/50 split in local government nationwide, although concerns have been raised that the proportion has been stuck at around a third since 2007.
On current estimates, it will be another 68 years before there is equal representation in the nation's council chambers.
Analysis by Other Side of Solihull, carried out to coincide with the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People Act, confirmed that the borough council continued to be disproportionately male. Our figure-checking showed.
  • Six out of eight of Solihull's cabinet posts are held by men.
  • The three largest parties on the council (Conservative, Green and Lib Dem) all have male leaders. The UKIP group is led by Coun Debbie Evans, although the party only has two councillors. Labour does not have a group leader, given that Coun Flo Nash is the party's sole representative on the council.
  • Of the 16 Mayors to have held office since 2000, six have been women - although Coun Kate Wild is the only councillor during that period to have taken the chains twice.
Ahead of tonight's Full Council meeting, a group of women from different political groups posed for a photo in the council chamber.
Earlier in the day, Meriden MP Caroline Spelman shared a similar picture taken in Westminster, of around 100 women MPs and Peers.
When Mrs Spelman was first elected to Parliament in 1997, 120 of the 659 MPs were women. At the time this was a record figure, although the number had risen to 208 by the time of last summer's General Election.
Dame Caroline said: "The centenary of the Act is an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought – and in some cases died – for equality.
"We all know that there is still more to do, and I look forward to working with people and organisations - such as [women's volunteer service] the Soroptimists - across the Meriden constituency to ensure we create an even more equal society."

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