Sunday, Aug 20th

Last update05:08:37 PM GMT

Do these parties value women?

Long way to go! - our verdict on the gender ratio of candidates standing in Devon County Council's elections.

Women make up over 50% of the population in Devon.
All things being equal, mightn't you expect a fairly 50/50 gender split amongst the 300+ cendidates willing to stand for election to one or another of Devon's 62 County wards next month?

You would be wrong. Men dominate our local political scene. And they don't appear very willing to change. Four years ago (below) the ratios looked like this -

 

2009

Con

Green

Lab

Lib Dem

UKIP

female

12

18

23

18

6

male

50

24

33

44

27

ratio

4.17

1.33

1.43

2.44

4.50

 

UKIP had the worst ratio. Their men candidates far outnumbered their women candidates. The Conservative Party ratio was also very poor. Their women candidates were outnumbered by their men one to four. Best were the Green Party - getting close to parity.

This year's County election, on the 2nd May, has over 40 more candidates in total than stood in 2009.

It also has more diversity of political 'platform' - for instance -

  • 4 candidates are standing as Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts (all men)
  • 1 candidate is standing as Your Decision To Keep The Lights On (a man),  and
  • 1 candidate is standing on no stated platform at all -(a woman in Fremington Rural Ward)

So does the 2013 table below show any improvement?

2013

Con

Green

Lab

Lib Dem

UKIP

female

14

18

28

14

9

male

48

30

31

43

52

ratio

3.43

1.67

1.11

3.07

5.78

UKIP keep their wooden spoon. Even though 3 more women are standing for UKIP, that Party's gender ratio has become even worse because of so many additional men candidates.. The Liberal Democrat Party and the Green Party have slipped backwards. The Conservative Party and Labour Party have inched slightly forwards.

This forwards movement takes the Labour Party closest to parity this time.

So... the Green Party four years ago; the Labour Party this year....  we ask two questions. Firstly, if one party can manage it why can't the others? And secondly, once your party has managed near-parity, why allow it to slip so far back?

Ceri Goddard, the Fawcett Society's Chief Executive has been quoted in the Guardian as saying "There is a lot of evidence that even when there is national-level commitment to change, local associations won't necessarily toe the line," … "Asserting local association autonomy from the national leadership can act as convenient cloak to deeply entrenched, if not publicly expressed, sexism." Political Party Selection Panels Are Anti-Women

Clearly, progress is not incremental. Time on its own will not work some magic solution. 

We challenge political parties in Devon to do better.

See also - 
Sex and Power - Who Runs Britain

The Centre For Women and Democracy

Fawcett Society - Women and Power Campaign

 

 counting in

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