How well are women represented in Parliament today?
In Parliament today, nearly a quarter of MPs in the House of Commons are women.
Female members of the House of Lords make up about a fifth of the total membership.
However, just one hundred years ago there were no female politicians in the Houses of Parliament at all.
Female MPs in 1929
A female first
In 1919, Nancy Astor became the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons. (The first woman in the House of Lords was appointed in 1958.)
Even after the Equal Franchise Act was passed in 1928, giving women equal voting rights to men, the 1929 general election resulted in just 16 female MPs being elected to Parliament.
Compare that with the 2010 general election, where 143 of the 650 MPs elected to the Commons were women (22%).
Slow, gradual growth until 1997
The 20th century mostly saw a gradual increase in the number of female MPs and members of the House of Lords in Parliament.
That was until the 1997 general election. The number of female MPs doubled overnight from 60 to 120.
Some contend that an important factor was the controversial system of choosing party candidates through all-women shortlists, used by the Labour Party.
How are things changing?
These days, a higher proportion of young politicians are female. Of the 28 current MPs under the age of 30, half are female.
While this could be seen as a sign of progress there is still some way to go; the overall the number of women in both Houses of Parliament is still less than 25%.
This section looks at some of the women over the past century and in current times who have made their mark on British politics.
Photo story: Marking 90 years since women got the vote
The photo above shows female Labour MPs who were in office in 2008 and, along with photos of women from other parties.
Taken by Kieran Doherty, the photo was taken to mark 90 years since women first got the vote. Doherty's photos were acquired by the House of Commons Art Committee as a lasting record of the occasion.
Women's Parliamentary Radio channel, who broadcast interviews with today's female politicians, own the copyright for the photos.
Continue the story...
Read about some of the female politicians who paved the way.
More about some of the current female politicians in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
A collection of links to more web pages and articles about women and politics.