Equality, particularly gender equality, is the theme of Christian Aid's 'Count Your Blessings' Lent calendar this week. Today's focus is parliamentary representation. The UK has made a little progress in this area in the last century. 100 years ago there were no women in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. The first woman in the House of Commons took her seat in 1919, but it was not till 1958 there was a woman in the House of Lords.
We still have a long way to go in the UK. The percentage of women overall in the Westminster Houses of Parliament is less than 25%. This is lower than most of our Western European neighbours. The world-wide league table as at 31 December 2011 produced by the Inter-Parliamentary Union has Rwanda in top place with 56.3% in the Lower House and 38.5% in the Upper House. A number of countries have no women in their lower or single house. Some of those with an upper house include some women in the upper house e.g. Yemen has 0% in the Lower House and 1.8% in the Upper House.
Christian Aid today tells me that fewer than 1 in 10 seats in the Indian parliament are held by women. As at 31 December 2011 it appears to have increased a little, with 11% in the Lower House (0.2% higher than Japan) and 10.7% in the Upper House. (Figures from Inter-Parliamentary Union). So that is good news, but still a way to go.
Christian Aid suggests you give 50p if you have ever had a female boss. I have and I've been one, but I really don't like the word 'boss'. And is that relevant to representation in Parliament?