I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the gender balance of the new European Parliament.
The Parliament has always been ahead of the curve in terms of gender representation, with a steady increase in the number of female MEPs with every election since its inception. In 2009, thirty-five per cent of MEPs elected were women, and this time it was thirty-seven per cent. This somewhat puts to shame the UK parliament which currently only has twenty-two per cent female MPs with little hope for significant change at the general election next year.
Which is why is slightly surprising to see that within the UK delegation to the European Parliament, women make-up forty-one per cent of representatives (30/73). This might be in large part down to Labour efforts to get more female MEPs, with eleven of our twenty seats going to women. It’s the first time that women have made up more than fifty per cent of the Labour delegation here and it is a very encouraging sign.
The Conservatives have only six women in their ranks of nineteen, while UKIP have a rather measly seven of their twenty-four. The Conservatives have never been very good on this issue, with only fifteen per cent of their MPs in Westminster being women, and they don’t seem to be any closer to addressing the issue as I discussed in a recent blog.
I must admit that UKIP have made some improvements since last time, where they only had two female MEPs in 2009. They had even fewer by the end of the parliamentary term though, with Marta Andreasen and Nikki Sinclaire leaving the party, both citing various reasons of which the sexism and chauvinism of their colleagues were prominent. I hope that this current group of UKIP MEPs can be slightly more accommodating to their female colleagues, but I don’t have much hope.