Gender balance must be reflected in local politics as a survey reveals that 79% of parish councils are underrepresented by women.
Herefordshire Women’s Equality Group (HWEG) carried out a desk top survey of the gender ratio of parish councils in Herefordshire after finding out that neither the Herefordshire Council or Herefordshire Association of Local Councils collect this information. The survey revealed that a significant number of parish councils in Herefordshire do not reflect their local communities. Seven out of 134 parish councils have NO female members at all, 79% parish councils have under representation of female parish councillors and there are more than twice as many male parish councillors than females (725 compared to 348).
Yolande Watson, Herefordshire Coalition councillor for Kerne Bridge, assisted with the research and said the results of their survey paint a shocking picture.’
‘Parish Councils have responsibility that are of importance to those who live locally such as commenting on every planning application, managing local footpaths and overseeing local community amenities including safe play areas, safe walking routes to school etc.’
‘Parish councils are the first step of local democracy. Michael Gove’s ‘Levelling Up’ should require parish councils to reflect the age and gender ratios of their local communities. Otherwise, those views will be overlooked.
HWEG is actively encouraging more women and young people to engage in their local parish councils either to stand for election or consider being co-opted. To find out more – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
‘On a more positive note,’ said Cllr Watson, ‘Herefordshire Council is quite unique where 41% of Herefordshire Councillors are female compared to 34% of female MPs in the House of Commons and 28% of female peers in the House of Lords.’