Monitoring women in politics

Finland’s April 19 election and the lead-up to the UK’s General Election May 7

[Brussels, 24 April 2015] As part of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) 50/50 campaign, we’re evaluating the results of Finland’s parliamentary election that took place on Sunday, April 19 and looking ahead to the General Election taking place in the United Kingdom May 7.

How many women candidates were elected to the Finnish Parliament? What does the scene look like for women candidates across the UK with campaign season in full swing and less than 2 weeks to go before Election Day?

Finland

On April 19, Finnish voters went to the ballots to choose their MPs for 2015-2019. According to a press release from the Eduskunta Riksdagen, voter turnout was 70.1%. It appears that the share of women candidates, while still not reaching 50%, has stabilised at around 40%.

The confirmed election results were published on Tuesday and show that women’s representation dropped by a single MP following the April 19 elections. 83 women MPs were elected this year, compared with 84 women MPs in the previous Parliament elected in 2011. Percentage-wise, women MPs now make up 41.5% of the Eduskunta compared to 42%. The EWL is happy to see that many women MPs have been elected. However, it is a pity that the Eduskunta will start its new session with one less woman and that parity has not been achieved. Hopefully the political parties will take the necessary steps in the next election to make sure 100 women go to Parliament.

United Kingdom

In the UK, campaign season is officially open and the election is shaping up to be an exciting one. What about women candidates in the general elections in the UK?

  • Out of 3,973 people standing for Parliament, 1,037 (26.1%) are women—that is the highest percentage of female candidates ever. This is a positive development, but that still does not come close to being representative of the 52% of women who live in the UK.
  • In one seven-way televised debate, 3 out of the 7 panelists were women and the opposition leaders’ debate the majority of participants were women.
  • How are the political parties performing with regards to female candidates? The party with the highest percentage of women candidates is the Green party with 37%. On the other hand, only 13% of the candidates that UKIP is fielding are women.

Women Mobilising!

The Women’s Equality Party was founded last month by Catherine Mayer following the Women of the World Conference. The burgeoning group has been meeting to strategise about how to provide a genuine alternative in the future to what’s currently proposed in the British political system.

EWL’s member Engender Scotland posted an inspiring article today, “A politics by and for women”, examining sexism in the run up to the general election . The Scottish Women’s Aid (a member of Engender) is running a letter-writing campaign asking candidates: “What are your plans for women and children?”

There are also many grassroots mobilisations happening across Britain, notably the 50:50 Parliament cross-party campaign which has a petition demanding better gender balance in the Parliament . The group UK Feminista has been very active with their #VoteFeminist campaign online and on the streets.

Women are standing up and asking for more #Womeninpolitics! The EWL and its members are continuing to advocate and lobby during the general elections to make sure that the UK does better!

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