Tackling the gender imbalance in local government

By | August 22, 2017
Councillor Marianne Overton

A new IPPR report 'Power to the people? Tackling the gender imbalance in combined authorities and local government' argues that young women are ready and willing to participate in politics. The UK general election in June 2017 saw a rise in voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-old women, with participation up from 44 to 53 per cent compared with the 2015 general election. However, so far there is little evidence to suggest that this will translate into higher levels of party membership and political representation among women. Despite making up half of the population and voting in the same numbers as men, on average only 34 per cent of women are a member of a political party, typically the first step into participating into local politics.

IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research, argues that political parties and institutions must seize the recent increase in voter turnout among young women to dramatically increase the numbers of women going into local politics. This must be complemented by a series of radical reforms to improve the pipeline of women rising to the top in local politics, and to correct the absence of women at the top of combined authorities.

LGA responds to IPPR report: ‘Power to the people?’

Cllr Marianne Overton, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association, responded to the IPPR report ‘Power to the people? Tackling the gender imbalance in combined authorities and local government’, saying “this report rightly highlights that progress in achieving gender balance in local government should be made at a faster pace.

“All parts of local government must be reflective of the communities they represent and be at the forefront of driving the level of change required.

“However, as the report also highlights, change will only come about through a mix of support programmes and direct action from political parties to encourage and sustain aspiring female councillors.

“The LGA’s ‘Be a Councillor’ campaign has a large focus on encouraging women and under-represented groups to engage with and enter politics. We are currently expanding our programme to include female mentors and greater support for young women considering entering local government.

“The LGA is also supporting the Women’s Local Government Society’s project to celebrate the 2018 centenary of women getting the vote and aims to inspire a new generation of women councillors and civic activists.”

Click to download a copy of the IPPR Report: Power to the People?
Click to download the IPPR Report: Power to the People? Executive Summary