Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, paid tribute to Gosport’s female councillors in a debate on Women and the Vote in the House of Commons last night, praising the fact that nearly forty percent of Gosport councillors are female.
In her capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities, Caroline was responding on behalf of the Government to an Adjournment debate called by Alison McGovern MP for Wirral South. The debate marked 150 years since the philosopher and Member of Parliament, John Stuart Mill, moved the first mass petition to the House of Commons on behalf of women claiming their right to vote.
The debate focused on the political representation of women and Members from across the House joined together in celebrating how far women have come since 1866. Caroline welcomed increasing female participation in local Government and drew attention to the strong record in Gosport, stating:
“I am delighted that, in my local council of Gosport, nearly 40% of our councillors are female, and I pay tribute to every single one of them.”
13 out of 34 councillors in Gosport are women, meaning the number of female councillors has nearly doubled since 2012 when only 7 held office. In the recent local elections on the fifth of May, 6 new female councillors were elected in Gosport, three of whom were Conservative.
Nationally, the 2015 General Election saw a thirty per cent increase in the number of female MPs. However, shockingly, the number of women to ever be elected as Members of Parliament is still lower than the number of male MPs holding office today. Caroline agreed that much more needs to be done.
“The progress we have made on these issues has not simply been given to us. It has been fought for every single step of the way and there is still such a long way to go to achieve the genuine equality we all want to see.”
“The petition back in 1866 called for women to be given the same political rights as men. Shocking though it seems now, that was a very radical thought back then. Every woman in this country owes a massive debt of gratitude to those early suffrage campaigners, who did so much to advance the cause not only of women’s political rights, but other rights too. As the 310th woman to have been elected to Parliament, this subject resonates with me, as I am sure it does with all 190 of my female colleagues around the House.”
“We need to keep up the fight, we need to talk about the issues that matter to us, we need to encourage the women around us to get politically engaged, and above all we must encourage them to go out and vote. That is the right that those early suffragettes fought for and we must all use it.”
Footage of the debate is available here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/362ea88a-2a86-45d1-8afb-943e795a3fd3?in=19:35:20 and you can read the full transcript on Hansard here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-06-08/debates/16060851000002/WomenAndTheVote#contribution-16060851000581 .