Feminising British Politics: Six Lessons from Devolution in Scotland and Wales

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Abstract

Modest levels of female representation at the House of Commons are in sharp contrast to the Nordic-levels of representation achieved in the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales since devolution in 1999. One apparent advantage of devolution is the opportunity that it provides for lesson-learning across jurisdictions. This article offers six lessons on women's political representation—three positive and three negative—drawn from the experience of devolution in Scotland and Wales. We draw conclusions from these lessons, including the need to keep parties under scrutiny to ensure they deliver on their rhetorical commitments. We also postulate that gender equality might prove too important to be left to political parties and consider whether there is a need to consider stronger measures such as mandatory quotas.

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