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 where data are available. 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 559 different women elected to the House of Commons (as of 04/03/2022).

• Until 1997 there had never been more than 10% of seats held by women. There are currently 225 female MPs in the House of Commons. At 35%, this is an all-time high.

• There are 229 female Members of the House of Lords, making up 28%.

• Six ministers in the current Cabinet (27%) are women. The highest proportion of women in Cabinet was 36% between 2006 and 2007.

• 43% of Members of the Welsh Parliament are women, along with 45% of the Scottish Parliament and 36% of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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: United Kingdom

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/Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament 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.

4) Years on graph axis represent years in which any election was held.

5) 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

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

Indicator description

Percentage of seats held in Parliament and Local Government by members who are women

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

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 28 April 2022
Metadata last updated 03 May 2022

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 for target 5.5 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 04 March 2022
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 June 2015
Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

HLInfo@Parliament.uk

Other information

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

Source 3

Organisation

Senedd Research

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 May 2016
Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

contact@assembly.wales

Other information

Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament data for 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2016. Data for 2021 was taken from Source 1.

Source 4

Organisation

Scottish Parliament/Pàrlamaid na h-Alba

Periodicity

Discontinuous

Earliest available data

1999

Geographical coverage

Scotland

Link to data source Female MSPs - Current session fact sheets opens in a new window
Release date 13 October 2021
Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official

Contact details

info@parliament.scot

Other information

Source 5

Organisation

Northern 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 March 2019
Next release

TBD

Statistical classification

Non-official

Contact details
Other information

Data for 2001 are available from previous Census of Local Authority Councillors 2008-2013 reports. Discontinuous data for England based on Census of Local Authority Councillors 2018; numbers may not add up as some respondents did not disclose information.

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 01 April 2017
Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Non-official

Contact details
Other information

Welsh local authority data for 2004, 2008 and 2012. 2017 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 18 June 2014
Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details
Other information

Northern Ireland local authority data for 2005, 2011 and 2014. 2019 data for Northern Irish local authority councillors is from Source 1.

Source 9

Organisation

OSCAR

Periodicity

Continuous

Earliest available data

2019

Geographical coverage

England and Wales

Link to data source UK Political Gender Analysis - Historical Analysis of Councillor Gender Across Local Government in England and Wales opens in a new window
Release date 24 February 2022
Next release

N/A

Statistical classification

Non-official

Contact details

admin@oscar-research.co.uk

Other information

Local authority data for England and Wales for 2019 - 2021, data reflects gender breakdown at June of each year reported. Data are based on historical analysis of public sector database maintained by Oscar Research Ltd. Please be aware that data from 2019 to 2021 does not cover 100% of all council seats in England but is based on analysis of a large sample of council seats (approximately 90%). This is as the data used for these years excludes councils that are outside of Local Government Association (LGA) membership and has had duplicated seats removed (cases when they are held by the same person, typically in areas where there are district and county councils). Although this data represents the gender profile of councillors overall, comparison of total numbers of council seats should be interpreted with caution.

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