THE BLOG
30/10/2015 07:23 GMT | Updated 30/10/2016 05:12 GMT

Women Are 51% of the Population - It's High Time That Parliament Reflected Society

With women now making up 25% of FTSE 100 boards, the launch of the final Davies report yesterday was a celebration of a great milestone in the mission for gender equality in UK boardrooms. But as the report made clear, there is still a great deal more to be done.

Crucial to securing gender equality in the workplace, as well as elsewhere in wider life, is increasing the number of women in positions of power to influence change.

I take great pride in being a member of the political party which recognises the value women bring to public life and the vital importance of that contribution to governing our country.

We know there is no defined list of issues that affect women - we participate in every part of life that men do. That's why we want to see more women, from all backgrounds in public appointments.

As the Party which introduced the first female MP and the first female prime minister, I am proud of what the Conservatives have achieved to date. Under David Cameron's leadership, the number of Conservative female MPs has quadrupled, nearly a quarter of Conservative ministers are women and a third of the ministers around the Cabinet table are women - all selected on merit.

Contrast this with other parties which employ all-women shortlists, whose shadow ministers claim they'll have a female leader, but "when the time is right", and whose leader chose to overlook the talent of his female MPs in appointing top positions in his Shadow Cabinet. It is clear which party is the driving force to end sexism and discrimination and make gender equality a reality.

While we've made progress in Parliament, we need and want to do much more. Getting more women into public life is vital to effectively represent and govern our country.

Unfortunately it's still the case that many women look at Parliament and think "that's not for me", and so potentially great candidates are deterred from standing. But you only have to look at the women in the 2015 Conservative intake to see how important and valuable their presence is in Parliament.

In Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, we have a nurse who grew up on a council estate in south London. She has worked in A&E, cared for cancer patients, while also leading a research team to find a cure. Parliament benefits from her insight, expertise and experience - as with all my female colleagues - every single day.

As a young girl, Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, fought against cultural expectations to complete her education. She was the first woman in her family to go to university and has since worked for the BBC in conflict zones across the world as well as for Age Concern and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

A former teacher, working mum Caroline Ansell, came into politics after experiencing first-hand exceptional NHS care when her young son was treated for a brain tumour.

A successful businesswoman, Seema Kennedy, MP for South Ribble, moved into politics from a career developing commercial property in the North West.

I could go on... These women are not the stereotypes you might have imagined. And we need more women like them.

As part of our commitment gender equality in politics we have taken steps to encourage more women to stand.

In 2010 we opened a Parliamentary nursery to help those needing support with childcare and have since reformed sitting hours to allow MPs to spend more time with their families.

Additionally, through our affiliated organisations such as Women2Win and the Conservative Women's Organisation, our female candidates can receive mentoring and training from our existing MPs.

Most recently, we've introduced a new candidates' bursary scheme to support those people who would otherwise be unable to afford campaigning to win a seat in 2020.

Women are 51% of the population and it is high time that Parliament reflected the diversity of views and experiences between us.

Mims Davies is the Conservative MP for Eastleigh, and a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee