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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Roundtable: Gender representation in local and regional politics - lessons from Germany and the UK

A new comparative study by IPPR and FES London analyses trends in women’s political representation in regional, local or municipal government in Germany and the UK.

Women make up just 32% of local councillors in England, 27% in Wales and 24% in Scotland. The picture is worse when we focus on local leadership: just 12.3% of local authority leaders in England are women. The UK’s political system is at a pivotal point, with the first combined authority mayors elected this year, and ongoing devolution negotiations across the country. In Germany, the percentage of women in political decision-making at the municipality level has stagnated at about 25% of the total. However, there are significant differences between large urban and small rural councils: the rate is between 30% and 40% in the larger towns, but decreases the smaller the municipalities are.

Changing local governance structures and upcoming elections offer an opportunity to think afresh and encourage women to become involved in local politics.

But there is an absence of evidence for ‘what works’ in developing pipelines of successful female politicians and helping them to progress to leadership positions. This is in spite of the many initiatives and policies that have been pursued in countries around the world, and which could hold important lessons for the UK.

A new comparative study by IPPR and FES London analyses trends in women’s political representation in regional, local or municipal government in Germany and the UK. Alongside data analysis the report examines what initiatives have worked in Germany to build stronger pipelines and to understand their implications for the UK. Our ambition is to encourage the positive action necessary in both countries to ensure that fairer democratic representation becomes achievable.

Timely with the local elections in parts of England, attendees of this event will hear about initiatives in both countries to improve gender representation at the local and regional level. We will consider:

  • What determines varying performance of local areas and regions in achieving gender parity in politics?
  • Which initiatives from both countries have been most successful in changing the number of women entering and progressing through local politics?
  • What learning could successfully be transferred between the UK and Germany, and where do cultural differences make translation of initiatives more difficult?

Places for this roundtable discussion are limited. If you are interested in attending, please email research@feslondon.net