House of Commons to hold first ever meeting of women MPs from every parliament in the world
6 November 2018
To mark the 100th anniversary of the first women in this country winning the right to stand for election to parliament, the House of Commons will host the first ever Women MPs of the World Conference on Thursday 8th November. MPs have agreed it will be held in the House of Commons Chamber itself.
This historic event is co-hosted by the Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt MP, who will give the opening speech in the House of Commons Chamber. The conference is backed Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom MP and former Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Harriet Harman MP, who will also speak on the day.
The one-day event will bring together women MPs from around over 100 countries around the world to celebrate their achievements, discuss how to strengthen visibility, and further empower women parliamentarians to continue to drive change nationally and internationally. The event aims to inspire the next generation, contribute to women's equal participation in parliaments globally, and demonstrate how elected women around the world are shaping the political agenda and making a difference to women and girls in their home countries. Delegates will discuss how to advocate for greater representation of women in parliament and public life, as well as exploring the specific challenges facing women MPs and how these might be overcome.
The morning will focus on sharing women MPs' experiences and what can be done to help them become more effective, counter harassment and abuse, balance family and political responsibilities, and help more women get into parliament.
The afternoon will explore how women parliamentarians are spearheading policy change and how to amplify this, by shining a spotlight on four policy areas that affect the lives of women and girls: promoting women's economic empowerment; ending violence against women and girls; championing efforts to enable all women to have access to voluntary family planning; and breaking the barriers to girls' education.
The event is supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British Council, Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Wilton Park.
Community organisations and charities working for women's rights are being invited into the public gallery to watch the debates.
Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt MP said:
“Without the determined and inspiring women who fought for the vote, my fellow women MPs and I would not be doing the jobs we do today. We currently have the highest number of women in history sitting in the House of Commons, but only 32% of MPs are women. Worldwide, only 24% of people elected into political office are women.
“We have a long way to go before we see true equality. We want more women to feel empowered and supported to enter politics and drive change nationally and internationally.
“That's why I am thrilled to be co-hosting elected women from around the world at this historic event in London.
“This centenary year we are not just celebrating the achievements of the women who came before us – we are helping women here and now to tackle gender inequality around the world.”
Mother of the House of Commons Harriet Harman MP said:
“Women have fought their way into nearly every parliament in the world. But it's not enough for us just to be there, we want to exercise power on equal terms with men in parliament. As only relatively recent arrivals, women MPs are still pioneers in male dominated parliaments.
“At this historic conference we will get together to share our experience, our successes and setbacks. We'll determine to fight yet harder to get equality for women in our countries. We'll make links so we can work together in the future. We'll strengthen our resolve to fight the backlash against women in public life and to get yet more women into parliaments.
“Our countries are very different but as women parliamentarians are goals are the same. We want equality for women and nothing less. The sisterhood is global and this will be a historic event”.
See full programme here (pdf 154KB).
*Harriet Harman is the current 'Mother of the House', the longest continuously serving woman MP, elected in 1982.
You can read a transcript of the debate in the House of Commons Chamber here (pdf 382KB), and watch the debates at the links below:
• Session 2 - Policy focus - How women in parliaments shape the political agenda to tackle inequality