Gender Quotas Database

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United Kingdom (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

United Kingdom (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) has a Bicameral parliament with the use of voluntary party quotas. 208 of 650 (32%) seats in the House of Commons are held by women.

At a glance

Structure of Parliament: Bicameral

Are there legislated quotas...

  • For the Single/Lower House? No
  • For the Upper House?
  • For the Sub-National Level? No

Are there voluntary quotas...

  • Adopted by political parties? Yes

Is there additional information?...

  • Yes

Last updated: Apr 11, 2019

Single/Lower House

House of Commons

Total seats 650
Total Women 208
% Women 32%
Election Year 2017
Electoral System FPTP
Quota Type No legislated
Election details IDEA Voter Turnout - IPU Parline

Voluntary Political Party Quotas*

Party Official name Details, Quota provisions
Liberal Democrats Article 2.5: "Whenever this Constitution provides for the election by party members to a Federal Committee, not less than 40% or, if 40% is not a whole number, the whole number nearest to but not exceeding 40% of those elected shall selfidentify as men or non-binary people, and self-identify as women or non-binary people respectively" (The Federal Constitution of the Liberal Democrats, 2018).
Labour Party The Labour Party's commitment is that 50% of all winnable parliamentary seats will select from All Women Shortlists.

* Only political parties represented in parliament are included. When a country has legislated quotas in place, only political parties that have voluntary quotas that exceed the percentage/number of the national quota legislation are presented in this table.

Additional Information

Scottish Parliament: In the 1999 election, women were elected to 48 of 129 seats (37.2 percent) in parliament.This increased slightly to 51 women and 39.5 percent in 2003. In the 2007 election 43 women were elected (33.3 percent)

National Assembly for Wales: In the 2003 election 30 of 60 seats went to women (50 percent). In the 2007 election, women were elected to 29 of 60 seats (48.3 percent) in parliament.

With regard to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, women's groups proposed measures to promote women's representation. The Women's Committee of the Scottish Trade Union Congress proposed a 50/50 gender balance in the new Scottish parliament. This system is known as "parallelism", i.e. that each constituency should return two members, one of whom would be elected from a female list of candidates and one from a male list was preferred. All electors would vote for both. Other proposals were put forward, seeking to combine a parity principle with a proportional system.

Sources

The Federal Constitution of the Liberal Democrats. Last Amended March 2018. Accessed 2 October 2018.

Additional reading

  • Lovenduski, J. 2005. ‘Party government and women’s representation debates: the UK’, in Lovenduski, J. et al (eds) State Feminism and Political Representation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 216-238.
  • Childs, S. 2004. New Labour’s Women MP’s: Women Representing Women, London: Taylor & Francis.
  • Squires, J. 2004. ‘Gender Quotas in Britain: A Fast Track to Equality?’, The Research Program on Gender Quotas. Working Paper Series 2004: 1. Stockholm University, Department of Political Science.
  • Childs, S. 2002. ‘Concepts of Representation and the Passage of the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Bill’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 8, 3: 90–108.
  • Russell, M., Mackay, F. and McAllister, L. 2002. ‘Women’s Representation in the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales: Party Dynamics for Achieving Critical Mass’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 8, 2: 49–76.
  • Breitenbach, Esther and Fiona Mackay (eds). 2001. Women and Contemporary Scottish Politics: An Anthology. Edinburgh: Polygon.
  • Norris, Pippa. 2001. ‘ Breaking the Barriers: Positive Discrimination Policies for Women’. Has Liberalism Failed Women? Assuring Equal Representation in Europe and the United States.  Jytte Klausen and Charles S. Maie (eds.). New York: Palgrave.
  • Squires, Judith and Mark Wickham-Jones. 2001. Women in Parliament: A Comparative Analysis. Equal Opportunities Commission.
  • Russell, M. 2000. Women’s Representation in UK Politics: What can be done with the
    Law?, London: The Constitution Unit.
  • Siim, Birte. 2000. Gender and Citizenship: Politics and Agency in France, Britain, and Denmark. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Henig, Simon. 1999. ‘The Labour Party and Women’s Quotas.’ Paper presented at the EPOP Conference.
  • Perrigo, Sarah. 1999. ‘Women, Gender and New Labour.’ Gerald R. Taylor (ed.) The Impact of New Labour. New York: St. Martin’s Press. pp. 162-176.
    Short, Clare. 1996. ‘Women and the Labour Party.’ Parliamentary Affairs.  49, no. 1. pp. 17-25.
  • Eagle, Maria and Joni Lovenduski. 1998. ‘High Time of High Tide for Labour Women?’ Fabian Society Pamphlet. London: Fabian Society.
  • McAllister, Ian and Donley T. Studlar. 1998. ‘Candidate gender and voting in the 1997 British General Election: Did Labour Quotas Matter?’ Journal of Legislative Studies 4, no. 3. pp. 72-91.
  • Anderson, Janet. 1997. Women as Electable Candidates: British Party Seeks Another Avenue to Affirmative Action. Parliamentarian. 78 (1) pp. 26-28
  • Hoecker, Beate. 1996. Innerparteiliche Frauenförderung in Grossbritannien und Deutschland. Zeitschrift fur Parlamentsfragen 27(4) pp. 642-657.
  • Lovenduski, Joni. 1996. ‘The Compatibility of Parity Democracy with the Constitutional and Electoral Law of the United Kingdom.’  Group of Specialists on Equality and Democracy: Final Report of Activities. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Press. pp. 68-90.
  • Lovenduski, Joni and Pippa Norris (eds.) 1996. Women in Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Perrigo, Sarah. 1996. ‘Women and Change in the Labour Party 1979-1995.’ Parliamentary Affairs 49, no. 1. pp. 116-129.
  • Short, C. 1996. ‘Women and the Labour Party’, Parliamentary Affairs, 49, 1: 17–25.
  • Squires, J. 1996. ‘Quotas for Women: Fair Representation?’ in J. Lovenduski and P. Norris (eds) Women in Politics, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 73–90.
  • Norris, Pippa and Joni Lovenduski. 1995. Political Recruitment: Gender, Race and Class in the British Parliament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mowlan, Marjorie. 1993. ‘Redressing the Imbalance: Labour Party Proposals to Ensure Greater Access for Women to Parliamentary Seats at Westminster.’ Parliamentarian 74, no. 4. pp. 196-197.
  • Brooks, Rachel, Angela Eagle and Clare Short. 1990. Quotas Now: Women in the Labour Party. Fabian Tract 541. London: Fabian Society.
  • Vallance, E. 1984. ‘Women Candidates in the 1983 General Election’, Parliamentary
    Affairs, 37, 3: 301–9.
  • United Kingdom Parliament website, http://www.parliament.uk/

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