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The Women and Equalities Committee launches an inquiry into actions by the House of Commons to ensure that it meets the needs of both women and men, and address equality issues, particularly those relating to Members of Parliament.

Purpose of the inquiry

The inquiry builds on the work undertaken by Professor Sarah Childs in the Good Parliament Report (2016), and the subsequent UK Gender Sensitive Parliament Audit (Dec 2018), which makes a range of recommendations to authorities in Parliament, to political parties and to the Government. The House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions have published a joint response (Tues 11 June).

Scope of the inquiry

The Committee will be looking at four themes drawn from recommendations in these reports:

Women’s representation and leadership: there are 209 women MPs: 32% of a total number of 650. Twenty eight per cent of select committee Chairs are women;

Parliamentary Effectiveness: the gender sensitivity of parliamentary procedures, facilities and support – eg childcare, predictability of late sittings;

An inclusive culture

Violence against women in politics, including in online spaces. The Audit report – see above – noted that one of the factors putting women off standing as MPs is “the culture of Parliament as highlighted in recent reports of bullying and harassment, and sexual harassment.”

The Committee is keen to hear views from anyone with experience of these issues, including MPs, staff, visitors, researchers, and experts on how other Parliaments address gender sensitivity and equality.

The UK Gender Sensitive Parliament Audit report was published in December 2018 with a range of recommendations to make Parliament more gender sensitive. There is considerable overlap; many of the issues and recommendations were shared across these reports. In the same year, new policies were introduced in Parliament to address bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct. Read more

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