The UK Parliament today hosted the largest ever number of female MPs from around the world in its Women MPs of the World event.
More than 100 women from 100 countries met in the House of Commons chamber for Women MPs of the World, orchestrated to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK. Female MPs from Canada, Columbia, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Oman, Ireland, Gambia, Slovakia and Venezuela spoke about the gender pay gap, misogynist violence and underrepresentation of women in governments around the world.
Harriet Harman, former Deputy Leader of the Labour party and the UK’s longest continuously serving MP, told Women MPs of the World attendees: “We have all made progress. When I was first an MP in 1982, it was three per cent women and 97 per cent men and women’s voices were not heard. Now, democracy is about representation. It is not a proper democracy if women’s voices are not heard…There is always a backlash [to women’s fight for equality]; and the backlash comes in verbal threats and also on social media, abuse, and also from the mainstream media as well. And I think we have to say to ourselves and to each other this is not something that you just have to expect.”
Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women and Equalities and Secretary of State for International Development, became tearful during her Women MPs of the World address, paying tribute to Labour MP Jo Cox, murdered by a far right terrorist in 2016, and British embassy worker Becky Dykes, who was murdered by an Uber driver in Beirut in 2017.
Mordaunt called for solutions to gender disparities around the world, referencing the 25 million backstreet abortions performed per year, the 200 million women and girls who have been subjected to female genital mutilation; and the 63 million girls worldwide who do not attend school. She concluded her Women MPs of the World speech by memorialising the suffragettes who campaigned for votes for women saying: “Those who went before started a great movement for equality. Let us be the generation that finishes the job.”