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Women Standing for Election

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd February 2018.

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Photo of Alan Mak Alan Mak Conservative, Havant 12:00 am, 22nd February 2018

What steps the Government are taking to encourage more women to stand for election to public office.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

I am proud to be part of the most diverse Parliament in history. My hon. Friend is of course making his own contribution by being the first British-Chinese Member of Parliament, for which I welcome him. We are commissioning evidence to identify strategies to overcome barriers to participation. Through our centenary fund, we are supporting projects to get more women involved in all levels of governance and ultimately to stand for elected office.

Photo of Alan Mak Alan Mak Conservative, Havant

I thank the Minister for her answer and for her kind words. Twelve women Conservative councillors currently serve on Havant Borough Council, giving over 100 years of collective service. Will my right hon. Friend continue to support women into elected office at local government level and congratulate my friends locally on their service?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

That is such a good question from my hon. Friend. It is so important that we also encourage women to participate more in local councils. Only 33% of local councillors are women, and I would like to see that number rise. I echo his thanks to his local councillors. I pay particular tribute to Councillor Gwen Blackett, who is soon to retire from Havant Borough Council following 45 years of service. I congratulate her on that, and congratulate the other women who have served as well.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The first woman to be elected to this Parliament was, of course, Countess Markievicz, an Irish nationalist. Is the Home Secretary, like me, looking forward to the presentation of a portrait of the Countess next week by the Irish Speaker in the Irish Parliament to Mr Speaker in this Parliament?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

Yes, I am looking forward to that, and I will make sure it is in my diary so that I can join the hon. and learned Lady for the event.