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It's been a slow climb for the women of Westminster

Posted On: 13 Feb 2020   |   Posted By: The Big Issue

It's been a slow climb for the women of Westminster

A century ago there was just one female MP in Parliament, when Nancy Astor became the first woman to take her seat in December 1919.
Speaking about her experience, she said: “Pioneers may be picturesque figures, but they are often rather lonely ones.”
Her election and 26 years in Parliament encouraged many brilliant women to enter politics. Over the last 100 years there have been 552 women elected to the House of Commons.
Among them was Margaret Bondfield, who made history as the first female cabinet minister when she became minister of labour in the 1929-31 Labour administration.
Brought up in poverty in Somerset, she was the 10th of 11 children and became a shop assistant at 14, moving to Brighton where she was a tailor's apprentice.
She became the first female Labour MP in 1923, and later declared that she took on her ministerial role not for herself, but for all women after seeing how female workers were exploited by their male bosses.
Ellen Wilkinson, who was education minister under Clement Attlee,...

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