This International Women’s Day, we remember that for most of our history, the contributions of many brilliant women to politics and society have been concealed or underappreciated. 

Women have been denied political agency, and have had to fight over centuries for the right to vote, speak their mind and stand for election. 

Despite formally gaining equal suffrage in Britain in 1928, there remains much more to do in terms of political representation and empowerment.

Just 34% of MPs in Westminster are women.

First Past the Post has been described as “‘the world’s worst voting system for achieving gender balance”.

By contrast, studies have shown that, on average, the share of women elected to parliamentary bodies is 8 percentage points higher in countries that use a proportional system. 

Every European country with more than a 40% share of women MPs in its primary legislature uses a form of Proportional Representation.

And, across the world, the few democracies with 50% or more women’s representation in parliament – for example Mexico, New Zealand and Rwanda – all use an element of PR within their voting systems.

Studies of the effects of proportional systems also reveal increased participation levels among women voters.

The message is clear: our current electoral system remains a barrier to women’s participation in politics.

If we in the UK are truly to value women’s contributions to society, we need women’s voices, experiences and role models properly represented within our centres of political power.

The votes for women campaign showed why it was so important to win political power and representation. Equal suffrage didn’t solve every problem overnight, but it was a giant leap towards a fairer society.

Proportional Representation is similar – it would represent the biggest advancement in democracy since women won the vote, delivering a vote that matters for every single person in the UK.