Today is International Women’s Day, a chance to celebrate the achievements of women around the world and look at what more can be done to achieve gender parity. Although only 22% of MPs in the House of Commons are women, they certainly make their voices heard. One third of the ministers that attend Cabinet are women, and the Shadow Cabinet contains more women than men.
Here are 5 female MPs that are on course to do big things over the next year, both in Government and Opposition and from the front and back benches.
Heidi Allen (Con)
After less than a year as an MP, Allen is already well known in the Commons for using her maiden speech to criticise reductions in tax credits and for recently opposing changes to Employment and Support Allowance contained in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. Having also visited refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos with Save The Children, Allen could be a compassionate voice from the Conservatives in the inevitable debates on the migrant crisis later this year.
Luciana Berger (Lab)
Berger is the first Shadow Minister for Mental Health and was Shadow Minister for Public Health for two years prior to that. She has been relentless in scrutinising mental health policy since assuming her position, and has also called for social media sites to do more to deal with online hate crimes after being the target of anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter. Look out for what happens in the Government’s post-referendum reshuffle though, when the Prime Minister may choose to appoint a direct counterpart for Berger – will she continue to shine?
Chi Onwurah (Lab)
Before becoming an MP Chi Onwurah’s career was in electrical engineering, and as Shadow Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy she has sought to encourage equality and diversity in the cultural and tech industries. Her joint shadow ministerial portfolio between Culture, Media and Sport and Business, Innovation and Skills, along with her expertise in the field, may put her at the forefront of the debate surrounding the Investigatory Powers Bill when it goes through Parliament.
Priti Patel (Con)
As well as being the Conservatives’ first Asian female MP, Patel has proved herself to be capable in delivering the party line in one of the most contentious government departments, the Department for Work and Pensions. She is also one of the figureheads of the Conservative campaign to leave the EU and has today questioned whether the EU erodes women’s rights. Watch out for her name on the ballot in the party’s next leadership contest – will the Conservatives prefer a more polished Eurosceptic than Boris?
Jess Phillips (Lab)
As recently as last Sunday Jess Phillips was labelled as “someone to believe in” in the Labour Party – she has not been afraid to voice her opinions on the current Labour leadership, and famously questioned Jeremy Corbyn on the gender balance in his Shadow Cabinet in a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Having previously worked at Women’s Aid and now a member of the Women and Equalities select committee, don’t expect Phillips to quieten down any time soon.