A record number of female candidates are expected to stand in next month’s general election, with women making up a third of nominations.
More than 1,100 women have registered as candidates, 34% of the total, marking an increase from 29% in 2017 and 26% in 2015.
The Labour party has become the first major political party in the UK to offer a majority of female candidates, with 53% of nominated candidates women – an 11% increase since the last election.
Women make up 30% of the Conservative nominations, up just 1% since 2017, while the Liberal Democrats have increased their gender balance by 29% since the last election, to reach 31%.
Of the Green party’s candidates, 41% are female – the second highest of the major parties – followed by the Scottish National party’s 34%. A quarter of Plaid Cymru’s candidates are women, with the Brexit party fielding 20%.
The increase puts the total number of female candidates at 1,120, compared with 973 at the last general election.
There are 211 female MPs, just over a third of the total number, placing the UK 39th in the world for the proportion of women in the lower house of parliament.
According to the latest government report, the figure also puts the House of Commons at the joint lowest gender balance out of the national assembly for Wales (42%), Scottish parliament (36%) and Northern Ireland assembly (32%).
Frances Scott, the founder, and director of 50:50 Parliament, an organization campaigning for gender balance at Westminster, said she was pleased to see the increase, but emphasized there was still a lot of work to be done.
“The fight for political equality is still on,” she said. “Our parliament should draw upon the widest pool of talent, including the 32 million women in the UK – their contributions are just as valuable as men’s.
“Since women could first stand in a general election, over 5,000 MPs have been elected, of which less than 500 have been women.”
Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, a charity that campaigns for women’s rights and gender equality, described the figures as a “missed opportunity”.
“We need a step-change in women’s representation. These figures won’t deliver that. Rather than celebrating, I think that most parties should be asking themselves why they haven’t selected more women,” she said.
“It’s the best chance they had in years to select significantly more women and they blew it.”