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Keywords:

  • gender;
  • quotas;
  • House of Commons;
  • democracy;
  • equality;
  • representation

At the current rate of progress it will be another century before parity of representation between men and women is achieved in the House of Commons. This article explores why and how legal guarantees may now be the best available route to secure equality of representation following the repeated failure of the political parties to deliver any significant improvement in numbers through their own preferred, voluntary mechanisms. It explores how the concepts of equality and political representation need to be recalibrated in order to place greater emphasis on democracy rather than meritocracy, and on outcomes as much as opportunities, and offers a broad outline of how a legislative guarantee might be structured and operate in practice.