We need equal parliaments to end intimidation

We need equal parliaments to end intimidation

New global research reveals shocking behaviour towards female politicians

26 October 2016

Two in five female politicians have been subject to threats of death, rape, violence or abduction, according to new global research by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). More than a fifth said they had actually experienced one or more acts of sexual violence.

“This shocking new data shows how urgently we need to change the environments in which politics is done, as well as attitudes towards women in our wider culture,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “It is unthinkable that our female lawmakers are subject to such criminal acts while in the course of carrying out their duties. All women should be able to work without fear of violence.”

The IPU data, which came from interviews with 55 female MPs in 39 countries, also revealed that 80% of them had been subjected to psychological violence – hostile behaviour that causes fear or psychological harm - and almost a third had witnessed an attack on a colleague in parliament.

“This new information comes as the World Economic Forum publishes its own data on the the gender gap in politics,” said Walker. “WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report shows that women are falling back in terms of political empowerment, with only two of the 144 countries surveyed having 50:50 parliaments. It is little wonder that female politicians are demeaned, disempowered and directly threatened.”

Walker added that the Women’s Equality Party has a clear and achievable plan for achieving equal parliament in the UK within two election cycles.

“We know of many female MPs who have been subject to terrible threats online and have been patronised and insulted in the chamber,” she said. “An equal Parliament is a first step to ending this culture of abuse. The Women’s Equality Party will put Parliament into ‘special measures’ for two elections: political parties must ensure 66% of candidates replacing retiring MPs and 66% of other candidates are women; different parties may choose different methods of achieving this but WE support the use of all women-shortlists in order to arrive at 50:50 representation by 2025.”

She added: “We challenge all other political parties to do the same. It’s only when more women’s voices are heard in politics that we can silence the threats and intimidation. It’s time we stop the cycle of abuse.”