I was very interested to read this year’s State of the World’s Girls report, which is focused on girls’ and young women’s political participation.
Since my election to parliament, I have been a passionate advocate for equal representation. I was proud to be the 380th woman elected to the House of Commons, and I was chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Parliament: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/campaigns/women-parliament .
Through my work with Women2Win, 50:50 Parliament and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Parliament, I have actively championed the need for women to get involved in public life and I will continue to do so.
I believe unlocking the full potential and power of women and girls is of vital importance. Not only is it morally right that women and girls can participate in the decisions that affect their lives, but it also accelerates progress on all our global priorities, from economic prosperity to security. Regrettably, however, women and girls continue to remain underrepresented in formal, high-level processes related to political decision-making.
I am proud our Government is supporting women through the awarding of £400,000 of funding to organisations which enable women to get involved in democracy and politics. This was part of a £1.5 million fund to mark the centenary, and initiatives such as Women2Win, which I have closely been involved in. In addition, #AskHerToStand is also working to select more women by providing support and advice to women who wish to enter Parliament. In this spirit, I found it incredibly valuable this week to participate in an event with my DWP ministerial colleagues during which we discussed and challenged stereotypes in the workplace which included a Q&A and the opportunity to share our own experiences: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/celebrating-international-womens-day-2021
Internationally, providing women and girls with the freedom they need to succeed is a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) priority, as outlined in the Government's Strategy for International Development published in May 2022. This is in keeping with FCDO human rights objectives, which currently include a particular emphasis on promoting gender equality and women and girls’ rights.
The FCDO’s activity in this area includes: work to strengthen legislation on gender-based violence; initiatives to increase the political participation of women; support for women’s rights organisations in protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls; and the empowerment of women to participate in national dialogue and decision-making processes. In line with this, enabling active female participation in political processes continues to be an important area of UK Aid's work, which I understand includes elections management and observation, electoral system reform and campaigns, women’s movements and leadership, and work with the media.
I hope this reassures those who contacted me about this subject that the UK Government is committed to a foreign policy that consciously and consistently works to deliver gender equality. Likewise, I am glad that the Government is also taking significant steps to increase the political representation and participation of women and girls here in the UK.
The 2019 General Election, for instance, saw more women than ever elected with female MPs making up a proportion of 34 per cent. In addition, the number of women on FTSE 350 boards has increased by over 50 per cent in the last five years. It is encouraging to see more women and girls represented in the STEM pipeline also, with a 50.1 per cent increase in women accepted on to full-time STEM undergraduate courses in the UK.
Whilst room for further progress remains, I can assure constituents that the UK stands steadfast in its commitment to protect and promote women’s and girls’ rights and will continue to work with partners, including women’s rights organisations, to deliver for women and girls everywhere.
As the Party which introduced the first female MP and the first female prime minister, I am proud of what the Conservatives have achieved to date. Nevertheless, women are 51% of the population and it is high time that our institutions reflected the diversity of views and experiences between us.