Lack of women in Holyrood revealed to be even worse at committee level


Only two women on 11-strong Finance committee

HOLYROOD'S POWERFUL committee system in the fifth parliament will include an even lower proportion of women than the chamber overall. 

Equal representation group Women 50:50 has said the gender balance on the Scottish Parliament's new committees is disappointing, with the important finance committee being 82 per cent male. 

The overall proportion of female MSPs in May's election was 34.88 per cent – no change from the 2011 election, and a drop from 2003's high of 39.5 per cent. 

“Every issue these committees cover whether the economy or education, impacts women's lives.” Talat Yaqoob

But the proportion of women on Holyrood's committees for this fifth parliament is even lower than parliament overall, at 32.7 per cent. 

The committees at Holyrood have a much stronger role than they do at Westminster, scrutinising legislation as well as conducting inquiries. 

The finance committee has only two female MSPs – Ash Denham and Kate Forbes – alongside eleven men. None of the committees are gender balanced, and the equal opportunities group has four men to three women.

The make-up of each committee is decided upon by the Parliamentary Bureau – itself an all-male panel of five MSPs. The presiding offier, and every MSP on the Corporate Body and Business Bureau, are all male. 

Talat Yaqoob, chair and co-founder of women 5050 said: "In the previous session of the Scottish parliament, we had committees that were all male, whilst I am pleased this error has not been repeated, we have a number of committees that still have a significant shortage of women's voices on them. 

"This yet again, is an illustration of why we need more women in politics; every issue these committees cover whether the economy or education, impacts women's lives.

"Four out of five party leaders supports the Women 50:50 campaign, we now need to translate this support into action and ensure that our next parliament is fully representative." 

The lack of improvement to the worsening representation in parliament was widely condemned, particularly the loss of key female figures in parliament such as Alison McInnes. 

Read more: Holyrood Boys’ Club: All-male committees to run Scottish Parliament 

Though most parties increased the number of female candidiates, significant Tory gains meant this shift was not translated in better representation for women in Holyrood. 

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