Home » EXCLUSIVE; More than a half of female British MPs witnessed sexism, survey reads

EXCLUSIVE; More than a half of female British MPs witnessed sexism, survey reads

Over two-thirds of women MPs have witnessed sexist behaviour in parliament

by Narges Mohammadi

A new report from the Fawcett Society claims politicians work in an environment that is “more abusive than inclusive”; and without urgent action, the situation will damage the UK’s democracy.

The Fawcett Society said 69% had seen the conduct, and only 37% of women MPs agreed with the sentence; “the culture in parliament is inclusive for people like me”, this is compared with 55% of men in the Commons.

The research by the campaign group also highlighted the effect of online abuse received by MPs, especially women, with 93% of them saying it impacted how they felt about being an MP, compared with 76% of men. Meanwhile, 73% said it stopped them speaking up about issues on social media, compared with 51% of men.

The society is calling for a number of changes to “create a more inclusive parliament”, warning without “urgent action”; certain issues will further exacerbate the under-representation of women in Westminster. This is particular of those from black and ethnic minorities or with a disability, and will end up damaging our democracy.

The Fawcett Society conducted a survey and carried out interviews with current and former MPs about the issues they face at work.

Politicians expressed the added pressure on them due to the likes of COVID; and public service crises showed the need for reform around how parliament works.

Almost half of MPs with caring responsibilities said that the timings and predictability of the parliamentary schedule; had a negative impact on how they feel about being in the Commons. With 66% of all MPs supporting more certainty in the timings of votes and sitting hours, and 63% backing greater support for MPs with caring responsibilities.

‘Toxic behaviors’

In every area the society explored, they found the impact was greater on women MPs; saying the “push factors” of sexism, online abuse and the impact on family from doing the job “shut many women’s voices out of politics”.

“These findings sound clear alarm bells,” said Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society. “Sexism, racism, ableism and other forms of discrimination have no place in our society. Additionally, when we hear so many members have experienced these behaviors – both in parliament environment and online ;it’s extremely concerning. This really damages our democracy.

“Given these are the experiences of some of the most powerful women in our country; imagine how much worse it is for those without power or privilege. The case for modernizing parliament is stark.”

‘Our democracy must work for everyone’

The report has the support of former women and equalities minister Maria Miller; who now chairs the all-party parliamentary group for women in parliament.

“Diverse parliaments are shown time and time again to be key to a strong democracy, yet, Fawcett’s research shows that, whilst important changes have been made in the House of Commons, progress towards a more diverse House of Commons is ‘far too slow’,” the Tory MP said.

“The research identifies a number of well-considered changes to the running of parliament that can easily be agreed by MPs, which would continue to change the culture of the House of Commons and monitor the progress being made to make it a more attractive place for a wider range of people to work.

Source: Sky News

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