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Centre for Women & Democracy
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Women Lose Out in Australian Election

24 Aug, 2010

Only a quarter of Australian MPs elected at the recent general election are women, a fall of almost 3% from the pre-election level.

The percentage of women in the Australian House of Representatives (the equivalent of the UK’s House of Commons) has fallen from 27.3% before last week’s election to 24.7% after it.

27% of candidates in the election were women, with the Australian Labor Party – which has a policy of fielding women candidates in 35% of its winnable seats – having 31% overall and the Liberal Party (the largest element of the Liberal/National coalition) just 20%.

However, women remain better represented in the Australian parliament than the UK’s – a mere 22% of British MPs are women.

31.5% of the Australian Labor Party’s MPs are now women, and 19% of the Liberal/National Coalition’s.

Australia is one of the very few countries in the world which uses the AV electoral system which will be the subject of a referendum in the UK next year.

Commenting on the figures CFWD’s Director, Nan Sloane, said:

“This is disappointing news, and reflects the fact that political progress for women is neither inevitable nor necessarily continuous. It also demonstrates that electoral systems alone do not promote women’s representation.

“Most political parties have a tendency to field women candidates in their most marginal seats, and as a result they are more vulnerable to national swings or changes of government. This is what happened in both the UK and the Australian elections, and will go on happening until we face up to the need to do much more to make politics more representative.

“The outcome for women in the Australian election is a wake-up call for all of us – we can’t take our gains for granted and we need to continue campaigning both to keep the ones we’ve made and to make more.”

 

Note:

22% of UK MPs are women, 17% of the USA’s House of Representatives, 19% of France’s lower House and 22% of Canada’s.

In New Zealand the figure is 37%,  in the Netherlands  41% and in Germany it is 33%.

Rwanda has the highest percentage of women MPs (56%) followed by Sweden (46%) and South Africa (45%).

Other countries with the same percentage of women MPs as the UK (22%) are the Czech Republic, Eritrea, Latvia and Uzbekistan.

 

For further information contact Nan Sloane on 0113 234 6500