Laura Sharman 10 September 2018

Local government still male dominated, analysis reveals

There has been 'virtually no progress' in women's representation in local government with nearly all councils being dominated by men, a damning new report has revealed.

Analysis by the Fawcett Society found that 97% of councils are male dominated, and there are just 18% women council leaders in England.

Of the 4,333 seats that were up for election in 2018, 38% went to women. This represents an increase of just three percentage points when compared to 2014.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive, said: 'This is really disappointing. We are literally crawling along. As we mark the centenary of women's suffrage, women’s representation across local government is stuck in the past.

'It is time for a strategic response. We call on Government, political parties, and local councils to act on the recommendations of the Local Government Commission, remove the barriers to women’s participation and make local government fit for the 21st century.'

The report calls on councils to include maternity policies for councillors and council cabinet members, ensure all councils provide support for childcare and adult care costs and introduce codes of conduct against sexism.

In response, cllr Marianne Overton, vice chair of the Local Government Association, said: 'The report rightly identifies that progress must be made at a faster pace to ensure a greater representation of women in our local authorities.

'It is vital that local government better reflects the communities we represent and is inclusive in order to have the best skills and make the best possible decisions.

'The LGA is leading the ‘Be A Councillor’ campaign. This year, our main focus of the campaign is to encourage women and under-represented groups to stand for election and help shape local councils to best support our communities. Councils also remain committed to ensuring that once elected, women also have an equal opportunity to become leaders in their councils.'

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