“Women in politics are a new force for global change,” says Labour’s Harriet Harman.
Today female politicians face a lot more abuse than their male counterparts which is why following the very first Women MPs of the World Conference in the Chamber of the House of Commons, Labour’s Harriet Harman is calling for a “powerful global network” to help protect women.
Last month, female MPs from 100 parliaments in five continents around the world attended the summit on 8 November, in which they debated and revealed the numerous issues that they’ve faced throughout their careers in politics so far.
Now, the collective findings have been published by the Mother of the House of Commons today, detailing the extent of the abuse female politicians are facing - from online abuse directed at female politicians and their families to the discrimination and harassment that some female MPs have experienced from their male counterparts.
“There are now women in nearly every parliament in the world,” said Harman, who was the leader of the Labour Party from May 2015 to September.
“We have fought our way in past prejudice and discrimination, often in the face of threats and violence. Women in parliament are pioneers. We have been elected to sit alongside men in our legislatures. But we are, as yet, not on equal terms.
“We are still in a minority and are relatively new arrivals in legislatures which are male-dominated.”
She continued, expressing her determination to see a global network established for female MPs.
“Most global summits are male-dominated or even men only. For men MPs the international network is well developed, but it isn’t for women,” she said.
“Out of our conference has come a powerful global network of committed women who want to work together for progress for each of our countries and all of our people.
“There was a strong desire to hold the conference annually in different parliaments around the world so we can continue to support each other and share ideas.
“Women in politics are a new force for global change.”
Earlier this year, an international study confirmed an alarming trend: the online treatment of female politicians is far worse than their male counterparts.
By analysing social media conversations about female and male political leaders in the UK, South Africa and Chile, the study found that the women were three times more likely than the men to receive sexist comments.
Three-quarters of Twitter posts about politicians’ appearance or marital status were directed towards women, rather than men. And, of course, all of the posts were entirely negative.
Even though male and female politicians received similar levels of derogatory comments overall, women were “three times more likely to see derogatory comments directly related to their gender”.
Both PM Theresa May and Labour’s Diane Abbott have been heavily subjected to online abuse. Before the election in 2017, half of all tweets Abbott was sent were abusive. And May received three times as many comments on her physical appearance than Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.
Unfortunately, online abuse is now deterring women from entering the field today which is why a global network for female MPs could help to improve, protect and encourage women to enter the
Watch Stylist’s video here on the types of abuse female politicians face online today.