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<p><a href="http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsg-01250.pdf"> 'Women in Parliament and Government', House of Commons Library, 30th June 2009</a><br /> <a href="http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12038"> 'Women still badly under-represented as parliamentary candidates', Ekklesia, 3rd May 2010</a><br /> <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/nov/15/women.gender"> 'All-women shortlists a must, says report' by Oliver King, The Guardian, 15th November 2005</a><br /> <a href="http://www2.brandonu.ca/library/cjns/18.2/cjnsv18no2_pg271-299.pdf">'Assessment of recent political developed in Nunavat: the challenges and dilemmas of Inuit self-government' by Andre Legare, Queen's University Ontario, p280</a><br /> <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/7265221/David-Cameron-I-will-impose-all-women-shortlists.html"> 'David Cameron: I will impose all-women shortlists' by Rosa Prince, The Telegraph, 18th February 2010</a><br /> <a href="http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/"> The Hansard Society</a><br /> <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/call-for-allwomen-shortlists-1863905.html"> 'Call for all-women shortlists' by David Bentley, The Independent, 11th January 2010</a><br /> <a href="http://www.dreaminggenius.com/2011/06/all-women-shortlists-route-to-equality.html"> 'All-women shortlists: a route to equality?' by Mediocre Dave, Dreaming Genius, 9th June 2011</a><br /> <a href="http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml">The Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a><br /> <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7474801.stm"> 'Harman pushes discrimination plan', BBC, 26th June 2008</a><br /> <a href="http://www.leechalmers.com/2010/05/14/increasing-the-numbers-of-female-mps/"> 'Increasing the numbers of female MPs', Thinking and Doing, 14th May 2010</a><br /> <a href="http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2006/03/women-need-female-role-models.html"> 'Women need female role models', Research Digest, 16th March 2006</a><br /> <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1222062/Women-shortlists-patronising-stunt---havent-Tories-learnt-catastrophe-Blairs-Babes.html"> 'Women-only shortlists are a patronising stunt</a></p>
<p>Websites:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://emilyslist.org/">Emily's List, campaign to elect women as Democrat representatives in America: </a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.idea.int/gender/index.cfm"> Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance:</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.engender.org.uk/"> Engender, a Scottish research and campaigning group: </a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.ndi.org/"> National Democratic Institute:</a></li> <li> <a href="http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/pc/pca/pca03/pca03a/pca03a1">The Electoral Knowledge Network: </a></li> <li> <a href="http://5050-group.com/blog/?p=25">The 50:50 Group, analysis of the role of quotas in increasing women in politics: </a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.cura.umn.edu/reporter/09-Fall-Wint/Kenney_et_al.pdf"> Report by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs on women in politics in Minnesota: </a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.fairvote.org">Fair Vote:</a></li> </ul> <p>Books:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/9189098196/interntionaldeba/104-5333130-0270319">KARAM, AzzaWomen in Parliament: Beyond numbers</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0863277594/interntionaldeba/104-5333130-0270319">MOONEY, P.Women in Parliament: the Irish experience 1918-2000</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521469619/interntionaldeba/104-5333130-0270319">NORRIS, PippaPolitical Recruitment: gender, race and class in the British Parliament</a></li> </ul>
Women are vastly underrepresented in democratic legislatures across the world. Until 20 years ago women had never been more than 5% of MPs in UK Parliament1. Even today women hold barely 20% of parliamentary positions1. Governments and all the major political parties have been accused of merely 'window dressing' in their attitudes to female participation in politics. A survey by the Centre for Women and Democracy survey in May 2010 shows that the Green Party is the most progressive party in encouraging women, with 33% of its candidates being female. Labour comes second with 30%, closely followed by the Scottish National Party with 29% and the Conservatives trail with 24%. Perhaps surprisingly, the Liberal Democrats have the lowest proportion of women candidates of any of the larger parties at 21%2.
Internationally the UK currently ranks 47th in the world in terms of women's representation in national parliaments, behind Rwanda, Afghanistan and Iraq; this is also behind the Welsh assembly, where 50% of members are women, and the Scottish parliament where the figure is 40%3. Out of the 27 EU Member States the UK currently ranks 15th1. In addition, just 33% of the UK's MEPs are women, below the 36% average for MEPs from the other 26 EU Members States1.
In 1997 Labour was elected with a record number of female MPs through the use of all-female candidate lists. Many people argue for a similar form of 'affirmative action' or 'positive discrimination' to boost female candidacy and attempt to ensure parliaments will reflect the gender balance of their electorate. This may be done either via targets (aiming to get a certain percentage of female candidates) or by quotas (requiring a certain number of women politicians), which are legally enforceable but inflexible. Other alternatives are all women shortlists from which parties select their candidate for constituencies. An innovative proposal in Nunavat, Canada, suggested two-member constituencies (one male representative, one female), but this was defeated in a referendum in 19974.
David Cameron has said that his party will impose all-women shortlists; he said he 'desperately' wanted to address the 'failure' of Parliament and the Conservative Party to reflect society5. The underlying prejudice against women in parliament and government is undisputed; what is in dispute is the best way to address it. Essentially, what the proposition is arguing for is equality of outcome; the opposition counters with equality of opportunity.
1 'Women in Parliament and Government', House of Commons Library, 30th June 2009