British Council Report - Women, Power, and Politics: What’s Changed in 100 Years?

Nov. 13, 2018

[Taken from British Council's report, "Women in Politics - What Changed in 100 Years?"]

Given that 2018 is the centenary of some women gaining the vote in the UK, the British Council has commissioned this research to map and understand the key developments of women’s role in politics in the UK and around the world over the last 100 years, contrasting the UK’s progress with international examples.

At the start of the 21st century, the UK had taken great strides in decentralizing its political powers to Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Despite this, women remain underrepresented in all levels of UK politics, steadily declining from the 25th to the 41st in global ranking in the last 20 years. Moreover, the proportion of women in government is still at a low of 32% across all UK nations.

This report is meant to become a basis in instigating discussion and discourse on women’s political participation, as well as create opportunities for partnerships between the UK and external institutions in promoting the rights of women and girls in society. Such is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 5.5, which is “Women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.”

Through gathering the practical knowledge and experiences of individuals who have worked as politicians, government representatives, academics, and activists, they have been able to gather meaningful insights that can inform and help change the level of participation of women in politics.

Six major themes were developed, identifying the key factors that have enabled the positive paradigm shift of women’s role and power in politics, the remaining barriers, and policy recommendations that will address these gaps. These include: (1) The fundamental importance of the role of women’s activism and sisterhood in progressing women’s access to power and politics; (2) The continued need for changes to the rules operating across the political system and how these are implemented by gatekeepers; (3) A consideration of the culture, norms and practices of the political workplace that has brought focus to the ways in which political institutions can welcome or act as a barrier to women entering politics; (4)The growing number and importance of women in leadership roles within politics, and their power and influence as a key discussion for participants (5)The visible results that have flowed from women’s increasing political power and participation over the last century, and the extent to which this has shaped the lives of women and girls in the UK and abroad; and (6) The progress for women in politics and the impact this has had on women’s lives as inextricably influenced by wider sweeping changes witnessed in the UK and internationally over the last 100 years. Perspectives analyzed focus on achieving change for women in power and politics, women’s activism and sisterhood, the rules, the political workplace, leadership roles, the results, and a changing world.


To see the full report, feel free to check out this link:

***Images were sourced from the report.