Statement on the centenary of women's suffrage

“Today marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act received Royal Assent, finally allowing some women (those over the age of 30 with property) to exercise the same democratic right as many men. 

“Since then, great progress has been made – on equal pay, property ownership, maternity pay, spousal rights and the representation of women in public life, as well as in a wide range of other areas.  In the 2017 general election, 208 women were elected to the House of Commons.  I am delighted that we now also have our second female Prime Minister. 

“This progress should be celebrated.  However, we must also recognise how much further we have still to go.  According to the ONS, men earned 18.4% more than women in April 2017.  While the number of female MPs elected to the House of Commons in 2017 was the highest ever, women still comprise just 32 per cent of MPs and, in the Conservative Party, the figure is disappointingly low at 21 per cent.

“The Government is doing a huge amount of work to further this progress.  Employers with 250 or more employees must publish their gender pay gap figures by April 2018.  To celebrate the anniversary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, the Government is also spending £2.5 million of a total £5 million centenary fund on celebrations and projects designed to encourage more people, from all backgrounds, to get involved in public life.  These efforts must continue, and go further.

“Recently, I sponsored Early day motion 866, which calls on the Government to commence Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010.  As outlined in a letter I signed to the Daily Telegraph this morning, this would require political parties to monitor the diversity of their election candidates.  Since Section 106 does not cover local government elections, Early day motion 866 also calls on the Government to amend Section 106 to include them within its scope.  This is just one initiative to increase the representation of women and minority groups.  However, I hope the Government will take this step to help achieve the change that is long overdue.”

Notes to editors:

Image credit: LSE Women's Library (link here).

For more information, please contact Bernard Jenkin MP’s office at or 0207 219 4029.