UK election sees record number of female MPs in House of Commons

People walk to a polling station for the British general election in Westminster, London, on Thursday.
Source: Frank Augstein/AP
People walk to a polling station for the British general election in Westminster, London, on Thursday.
Source: Frank Augstein/AP

Thursday's U.K. election may have ended in a hung parliament, but there was at least one group that saw a decisive victory: women.

According to the Guardian, a record number of women will take seats in Britain's House of Commons this session, with at least 207 female MPs having been elected in Thursday's vote. The previous iteration of the House of Commons had 196 women.

Of those 196 women, 191 had been elected in 2015, the first year the total number of women elected to parliament in all of history surpassed the number of men elected to a single parliament.

Green Party Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas, speaks at an anti-fracking protest in London in 2015. She retained her parliamentary seat in Thursday's election.
Source: Alastair Grant/AP

Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, a U.K.-based charity for women's rights, sees some significant progress in these numbers — but she said the march toward gender equality could stand to move along much faster.

"The number of women MPs in parliament has broken the 200 barrier for the first time," Smethers told the Guardian. "But while this is progress the fact remains that just 32% of our MPs are women, up from 30% before the election.

"We are moving forward at a snail’s pace and this is embarrassingly slow."

Some might say the same of the United States, whose number of women in Congress remained stagnant following the 2016 election. However, despite the middling numbers of congresswomen overall, the election won women of color a record number of 38 seats in Congress.

Smethers urged her fellow Brits to continue fighting for better representation.

"It is time for a radical new approach," she said. "We have to legislate to require the parties to select at least 45% women candidates."

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Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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