Cathy Newman writes in the UK Telegraph about the century and a half since Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Emily Davies organised a petition to be presented to the UK parliament calling for female suffrage. The fact that suffrage has not turned into a fair share of representation is disappointing. Cathy Newman backs the 5050parliament campaign.
Our campaign is bolder - it would require equal gender representation to be mandated in the electoral law in Australia. This is possible for the UK as well.
If suffragettes Elizabeth Garrett and Emily (Davies) were to turn up in the lobby of the Palace of Westminster today – as they did exactly 150 ago – you could forgive them for feeling a little disappointed. A century and a half ago - on June 7, 1866 - they arrived at Parliament to present a petition calling for women to get the vote. While many decades later that battle has been won, Ms Garrett and Ms Davies would no doubt be dismayed to see how unequal the political world remains.
Of 649 MPs currently in the House of Commons, just 192 are women. In other words, there are nearly 140 per cent more men than women. More men get to plonk their bottoms on those green benches right now than the total number of female MPs throughout history.
Time for another petition, then.
While campaigns are two a penny these days – their currency devalued when they’re hijacked by the trolls and those with a vendetta to pursue – here’s one which deserves to be taken seriously - 50:50 Parliament, a cross-party campaign to get more women into Westminster, has posted its clarion call here. It’s perfectly possible that a lot of women have looked at the antics of the current inhabitants of the Westminster village and decided to give it a wide berth. But it’s also perfectly possible that among the 51 per cent of the UK population, there are some brilliant women out there just waiting to represent us all - if only they got the chance.
Emily Wilding Davison was born in 1872 and was active in the suffragette movement in the later 19th Century and early 20th Century. Emily hid in a cupboard in parliament house in 1911 so that she could record her address as parliament house. Emily was fatally injured when she entered the Epsom racetrack in 1913 and was trampled under the King's horse.