Women in parliament since 1918

Primary History article

By Alf Wilkinson, published 30th October 2018

100 years of suffrage

At the 1918 election just one woman, Constance Markievicz, won a seat, in Dublin, for Sinn Fein. She was in prison at the time. At the time, of course, the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. All 73 Sinn Fein MPs refused to take up their seats, and so the first woman to actually sit in Parliament was Nancy Astor, Conservative Party, elected at a by-election in 1919, for Plymouth Sutton. She succeeded her husband as MP. The first Cabinet Minister was Margaret Bondfield, Labour Party, in 1929. She was Minister for Labour. The first Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher, in 1979. Today, there are 208 female MPs. That is very nearly one third of all MPs. And let us not forget the House of Lords where there are 206 Peers, 25% of the total. Good progress but some way to go.

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