Making it Happen for 2027: Transforming Local Democracy for Women

1.	The graphic shows a bright orange background with purple and lilac left-aligned text that reads "Making it Happen for 2027: Transforming Local Democracy for Women". In the top right-hand corner of the graphic there is an icon of a megaphone emitting sound. Along the bottom of the graphic are the Elect Her, Women 5050, and Engender logos.

Today Engender, Elect Her and Women 50:50 are launching a campaign to build a future where women’s equal representation in councils is realised. “Making it Happen for 2027: Transforming Local Democracy for Women” is a call to action aimed at all of those who have the power to shape this outcome – including councils, councillors, government, political parties and the news media.

At the May 2022 election, the number of women councillors increased from 29 per cent to 35 per cent, an increase of just 6 per cent. Women have long been excluded within Scotland’s local councils, and although we do not have the data we need to clearly understand the diversity of our representatives, what we do know tells us that Black and minority ethnic women, disabled women and LBTI women experience this exclusion on even greater scales. For instance, Scotland’s capital city has only one woman of colour councillor, despite being one of the most diverse areas of the country. And, despite the small increase in the number of women councillors nationally, Women 50:50 have found that if this rate of change is allowed to continue, we will not see gender equality in our local councils until 2037.

Following these underwhelming results, yet again there is talk from political parties, councils and government of a “need to do better.” But progress towards equal representation continues to be glacial. The election cycle continues, and too often, windows of opportunity to review and initiate the types of long-term, sustainable change needed to achieve better outcomes are missed. If we want to see gender equal representation in our councils become a reality at the next local authority elections in 2027, the work must begin the work now.

We are calling for the creation of a multi-stakeholder taskforce to be created to monitor women’s participation and representation in local politics and to keep this issue in the spotlight. Too often we have seen the issue of women’s (and other groups who experience political exclusion) underrepresentation fall off the agenda once the election is a memory. We cannot again afford to lose the opportunity to initiate long-term, sustainable change within the structures, processes and organisations which help shape our democratic institutions.

Let’s not waste another five years before taking the action that we know is needed now - come the next local elections in 2027, we must not still be asking, “where are the women?”

As well as our call for the creation of a taskforce, we have made a set of specific recommendations for councils, councillors, government, political parties and the news media which you can find in our campaign summary here.

4.	The graphic shows a lilac background with purple left-aligned text that reads "We all benefit from having council chambers that better reflect the diversity of our communities, but this is not going to happen without action by political parties and councils. So let’s start now, working to make it happen for 2027.". In the top right-hand corner of the graphic there is an icon of a megaphone emitting sound. Along the bottom of the graphic are the Elect Her, Women 5050, and Engender logos.

To support our collective understanding of the issues as we get to work, we have also put together a suite of reports and resources digging further into the causes of gender inequality in local democracy with different perspectives in mind:

To help maximise the impact of these resources and of our campaign, we are asking for your help. Please share our campaign widely – we need as many people as possible engaging with our reports and acting on our recommendations if we are to see substantive change in women’s local representation.

Progress doesn’t happen overnight or by chance. If we are serious about ensuring that local democracy represents - and crucially, serves - women in all their diversity, then the work must begin now.

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