Women make up only 32% of MPs in Parliament, a gross numerical underrepresentation in comparison to their male counterparts. TRUE Solicitors, experts in medical negligence claims, take a look at the strong women of the past and present, zoning-in on how they influenced politics and pioneered the laws that we have in place today, some of which we take for granted.
The Transport Act 1968
Barbara Castle was one of the most prominent women in politics during her time, going on to act as Minister of Transport from 1965 to 1968, during which period she made revolutionary changes that we now take for granted. Ironically, Barbara could not drive and this was something that other politicians would make fun of, questioning her ability to make informative decisions on transportation matters in Parliament.
Passing legislation that meant that every new car would need to be fitted with seatbelts was one of her most memorable achievements. This piece of legislation is something that Barbara was extremely proud of and clearly saved a lot of lives when it came into action in 1983 for front-seat passengers, although it took until 1989 for rear-seat passengers. According to THINK!, you’re twice as likely to die car crash injuries if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.
Barbara made other monumental implementations, including the breathalyser, after the drink-driving crisis grew in the UK, as well as the permanent 70MPH speed limit on motorways.
Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Act 2017
Since she was Home Secretary under David Cameron’s Conservative government, something that has been close to the heart of now Prime Minister, Theresa May, is violence against women in Britain. This piece of legislation has stopped victims being interrogated by abusers in court and reduces the risk of policing authorities dealing inconsistently with such cases.
Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
The NSPCC reports 137,000 cases of women and girls affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) in England and Wales. The legislation was introduced by Baroness Rendell of Babergh within the House of Lords Bill 1998. Although it was illegal at the time, this act made it illegal for UK nationals to perform FGM outside of the UK borders. The penalty for doing so was increased from 5 to 14 years imprisonment.
Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act
Acting on the encouragement of Lynne Featherstone when she was Liberal Democrat Minister for Equalities, the government announced that it would carry out a consultation into how to introduce civil marriages for same-sex couples, which was a big change in British politics. This legislation was passed in January 2013 and would have not been possible without Featherstone’s stance and determination.
Domestic, Crime and Victims Bill 2004
Vera Baird was a prominent figure in the Labour party from 2001 until 2010, but her efforts for bringing awareness to domestic violence in the UK were recognised. Once this legislation was passed, she constantly worked around it to make sure that it covered all areas and this led to common assault becoming an arrestable offense, which allowed police to arrest at the scene of the crime.