devolved institutions

Are cracks in the devolved governments' gender equality already starting to show?

15th March 2012
15 Mar 2012
women's representation
devolved institutions


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020 7202 8601

Are cracks in the devolved governments' gender equality already starting to show?

The Electoral Reform Society have published a new report warning that progress on gender representation in the devolved governments will slide into a reverse unless action is taken.

Key points from report on women's representation in Scotland and Wales

  • Progress on women’s representation in Holyrood and the Senedd now stagnant or in decline
  • Disturbing void opening up in the talent pool of prospective female AMs and MSPs (of the candidates in 2011only 8 out of 23 AMs were female and a paltry 171 out of 579 MSPs)
  • In Wales current representation relies heavily on incumbents from the 2003 election who benefited from positive action which is no longer in place
  • In Scotland the decline in women’s representation is in large part concurrent with this loss of the ‘rainbow parliament’ and the rise of the SNP (only 28% of the SNP’s majority group of MSPs are female).
  • Scarcity of women at local government level (only 25% in Wales and 21.6% in Scotland compared with England’s 30%) contains an important warning for the future as many AMs and MPSs gain vital experience as councillors.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said

The pipeline of future female talent for the devolved governments appears to have sprung a leak. If this trend continues it could have a devastating impact on the Welsh and Scottish Parliament's future gender parity.

There is a very real threat that inertia on this issue will cause an embarrassing fall back for the devolved governments to the dismal lows of Westminster’s own levels of gender representation.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Our new coalition campaign: Counting Women IN, has a simple goal: 50/50 men and women in all our political institutions. This is the first time organisations across the gender and democracy sectors have come together in this way and we’ll be working closely with parties across the UK to help them get their act together.


Download: Women’s Representation in Scotland and Wales

Contact For more information or to arrange an interview with Katie Ghose, CEO of the Electoral Reform Society, contact Sophie Langridge at or call 020 7202 8601.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Welsh Assembly now has two out of four party leaders female: Plaid Cymru’s new leader Elin Jones/Leanne Wood and the Lib Dems' Kirsty Williams. The Scottish parliament also has two out of four female party leaders; Labour's Johann Lamont and Tories' Ruth Davidson.
  2. Plaid Cymru does however have a female Chair, Chief Executive, President and now a female leader.
  3. The Counting Women In campaign is a new coalition set up by five leading campaigning organisations in democracy and women’s rights; the Centre for Women and Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society, the Fawcett Society, the Hansard Society and Unlock Democracy
  4. The Welsh Assembly (41.6% female) and the Scottish Parliament (35% female) rank eighth and eighteenth wordwide respectively when it comes to electing women. The UK House of Commons currently ranks 53rd, tied with Malawi.
  5. To find out more about the Electoral Reform Society Wales and Scotland visit
  6. The Electoral Reform Society is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and improve UK democracy.