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Indicator 5.5.1 Proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments and (b) local governments

The data shows the percentage of women who hold seats in national parliament, devolved parliaments and assemblies, and local authority councils for all countries of the UK. The data are presented in nine categories. The House of Commons and House of Lords are representative of the entirety of the UK. In contrast, the data for local authority councillors are separated by country as are the devolved parliament and assembly seats of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

• Since 1918, when women were first permitted to stand as MPs, the UK has had a total of 491 elected female members to the House of Commons (up to end of August 2019).

• Until 1997 there had never been more than 10% of seats held by women. Data for 2017 shows that 32% of seats in the House of Commons were occupied by female MPs, a record high.

• Of the 782 members of the House of Lords in 2017, 206 were women, making up 26%.

• Since its devolution in 1999, the Welsh Government has consistently had at least 40% female Assembly Members.

• Women have made up between 30-40% of seats in the Scottish Parliament since 1999. In 2016 the figure stood at 35%.

• Northern Ireland’s female Assembly Members rose from 13% in 1998 to 30% in 2017.

See the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper for more information.

Sub-categories

Choose categories from the dropdowns below to see different breakdowns of the data. Some will not be available until a higher level is chosen.

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Headline data

Source: House of Commons Library

Geographical Area:

Unit of Measurement: Percentage (%)

Footnote: 1) Data for the House of Commons are only available for the general election years. 2) In 1974 there were two General elections in February (labelled a) and October (labelled b). 3) Data for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly are calculated at the beginning of an assembly, and do not take into account changes during the course of that assembly. This also applies for Local Authority areas. Years on graph axis represent years in which any election was held. 4) The x-axis is not spaced evenly by year.

This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from UK statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from UK statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other UK-specific metadata information.

Indicator available
Indicator description

Percentage of seats held in Parliament by members who are women

Geographical coverage
Unit of measurement

Percentage (%)

Definitions

Seats refer to the number of parliamentary mandates, also known as the number of members of parliament. Seats are usually won by members in general parliamentary elections. Seats may also be filled by nomination, appointment, indirect election, rotation of members and by-election.

Available disaggregations
Calculations

The proportion of seats held by women in national parliament is derived by dividing the total number of seats occupied by women by the total number of seats in parliament. There is no weighting or normalising of statistics.

Other information

Data follows the UN specification for this indicator. This indicator has not been identified in collaboration with topic experts.

Data last updated 2020-10-16: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window
Metadata last updated 2020-10-16: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name

Proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments and (b) local governments

Target name

Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life

Global indicator description
UN designated tier

Tier I

UN custodian agency

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), UN Women

Link to UN metadata United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Metadata (PDF 4.0 MB) opens in a new window

Source 1

Organisation

House of Commons Library

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1918

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source Women in Parliament and Government opens in a new window
Release date

20/07/2018

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

hcinfo@parliament.uk

Other information

The underlying data from this report has been acquired from the author.

Source 2

Organisation

House of Lords Library

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1958

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source Women in the House of Lords opens in a new window
Release date

30/06/2015

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

HLInfo@Parliament.uk

Other information

The underlying data from this report has been acquired from the author.

Source 3

Organisation

National Assembly for Wales

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1999

Geographical coverage

Wales

Link to data source Assembly Election 2016 - Women's Policital Representation opens in a new window
Release date

27/05/2016

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

contact@assembly.wales

Other information

Source 4

Organisation

The Scottish Parliament

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1999

Geographical coverage

Scotland

Link to data source Female MSPs - Current Session opens in a new window
Release date

04/08/2017

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official

Contact details

info@parliament.scot

Other information

Source 5

Organisation

Norther Ireland Assembly

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1998

Geographical coverage

Northern Ireland

Link to data source Northern Ireland Assembly MLA search opens in a new window
Release date

NA

Next release

NA

Statistical classification

Unknown

Contact details

info.office@niassembly.gov.uk

Other information

Data sourced directly from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Source 6

Organisation

Local Government Association

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1997

Geographical coverage

England

Link to data source Census of Local Authority Councillors 2018 opens in a new window
Release date

27/03/2019

Next release

TBD

Statistical classification

Non-official

Contact details
Other information

Data for 1997 and 2001 are available from previous Census of Local Authority Councillors 2008-2013 reports.

Source 7

Organisation

Local Government Commission

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

2004

Geographical coverage

Wales

Link to data source Interim report for the Local Government Commission opens in a new window
Release date

00/04/2017

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Non-official

Contact details
Other information

2019 data for Welsh local authority councillors is from Source 1.

Source 8

Organisation

Northern Ireland Assembly

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

2005

Geographical coverage

Northern Ireland

Link to data source Northern Ireland Assembly report opens in a new window
Release date

41808

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details
Other information

2019 data for Northern Irish local authority councillors is from Source 1.

Source 9

Organisation

Lincoln University

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1995

Geographical coverage

Scotland

Link to data source Scottish Local Authority Councils opens in a new window
Release date

00/04/2016

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Non-official

Contact details
Other information

2017 data for Scottish local authority councillors is from Source 1.