To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to promote opportunities for women in rural areas to participate in public life.
The Government believes that public life is strengthened by the participation of people with different skills, backgrounds and experiences, from right across the country. As a country we cannot afford to waste the talents of half our population and that is why we must ensurewomenare better representedacross all walks of life, including those from rural areas.
The 2015 General Election was a great step forward for women’s representation. We now have the highest number of female MPs in Parliament and a third of our Cabinet is made up of women. We know women continue to be under-represented on local councils; that is why schemes such as the Be a Councillor campaign, which has been run by the Local Government Association since 2012, are so important. The Government is also committed to increasing the diversity of public appointments and has set the aspiration that 50% of new appointments should go to women.