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Festival of Ideas

What’s the Future of Women in Politics? Rachel Reeves

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There are more women in parliament than ever but often their achievements have been overlooked. Rachel Reeves tells their stories and asks what is the future of women in politics.

There are more women in parliament than ever. 208 women MPs were elected to the House of Commons in the General Election of 2017, a record high of 32 per cent of the total. There are 206 female peers, making up 26 per cent of Members of the House of Lords.

At the same time, the process of Parliament remains antiquated: in one recent vote, an MP had to delay her caesarean-section birth to vote in a critical debate; another had the decades-old principle of pairing broken as she was on maternity leave. Female politicians continue to face attacks on social media, and in person, much more than male MPs.

Rachel Reeves talks about the future of women in politics based on her own pioneering work and her experience as an MP. She tells the stories of the sometimes forgotten MPs who made major change happen – from campaigns for equal suffrage to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the legalisation of abortion, equal pay, child benefit, maternity and paternity leave, and against sexual harassment.

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