Only 32 percent of the UK’s MPs are female. And yet, despite this inadequate representation, female MPs have led the way on some of history’s most prominent laws.
Along with cycling accident claims expert True Solicitors, we highlight some of the most famous examples:
Theresa May — Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Act 2017
Let’s take a trip down memory lane starting with our current Prime Minister. Something that has been close to the heart of Theresa May since she was Home Secretary under David Cameron’s Conservative government 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.
Barbara Castle — The Transport Act 1968
The Minister of Transport 1965-1968, Barbara Castle made some monumental changes to transport law that are now taken for granted. Ironically, Castle could not drive and this was something that other politicians would poke fun at — questioning her ability to make informed decisions on transportation matters in Parliament. One of her most memorable achievements was passing legislation that meant that every new car would need to be fitted with seatbelts. 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 in a car accident if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.
And that’s not all. Other monumental implementations that were made by Barbara were the breathalyzer, after the drink-driving crisis grew in the UK, as well as the permanent 70MPH speed limit on motorways.
Baroness Rendell of Babergh — Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
It is staggering to think that something like female genital mutilation still occurs in the modern day, but sadly, it does. According to the NSPCC, there are 137,000 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 increased from 5 to 14 years imprisonment.
Lynne Featherstone — Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act
The need for LGBT laws, both new and in reviewing older laws, is paramount. Looking at recent government statistics, for every 100 people in the UK, one person identifies as gay or lesbian — and Lynne Featherstone put this at the top of her agenda when she was the Liberal Democrat Minister for Equalities during the 2010 coalition government. With her encouragement, 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.
Vera Baird — Domestic, Crime and Victims Bill 2004
As an important member of the Labour party from 2001 to 2010, Vera Baird is particularly recognized for her efforts in raising awareness of domestic violence in the UK. Once this legislation was passed, she constantly worked around it to ensure that it covered all areas — which led to common assault becoming arrestable, which allowed police to arrest at the scene of the crime.
As more and more women achieve their place in UK parliament, we will no doubt see more women leading the way for change through new laws as the years go by.