On International Women's day, a damning new report says female politicians are failing to act as role models. By Jane Merrick
Leading female MPs are failing to inspire a lost generation of young women to become interested in politics, a damning report has revealed. Girls and young women feel disenchanted with and disengaged from politics, the major study found.
More than 90 years after women won the right to vote, the survey of young females aged up to 25 concludes they are outside politics, with many feeling detached from local and national policies and decision-making.
The report, which has been highlighted to mark International Womens Day by Girlguiding UK, the largest women-only organisation in the country, casts doubt on the ability of high-ranking female politicians to act as credible role models for girls.
Ruth Kelly, who resigned from the Cabinet last year to spend more time with her family, has left the impression that women cannot have both a high-flying career and children, one Guide leader said yesterday.
The study places the blame on a lack of information about how to take part in local and national politics, and the small proportion of female MPs 19 per cent in Westminster.
The report, Political Outsiders: We Care, But Will We Vote?, is published in partnership with the Fawcett Society and the British Youth Council. Its findings are all the more worrying because it is based on the views of Guides, traditionally more active in volunteering than others in their age group, suggesting disillusionment in the wider public is even greater.
Denise King, the chief executive of Girlguiding UK, said: This report shows that greater efforts are needed to inspire the next generation of female policy-makers, empowering them to have a real say on issues affecting their daily lives and the communities they live in.
More than a quarter of girls are put off by a lack of information about how they should take part, while 17 per cent believe it cannot make a difference.
Nearly half of young women say they would like to be more involved in volunteering, but when this comes to local or national politics, the figure drops to 28 per cent. Domestic violence, gangs and knife crime, bullying and equality at work emerged as the most important issues for young women.
The report …