LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of women parliamentarians in Britain is "shockingly low" and the government should set targets to achieve equal representation by 2030, British lawmakers said in a report on Tuesday.
Since the first woman MP was elected nearly 100 years ago, 455 females have become lawmakers - which is exactly how many men are in parliament today, the all-party Women and Equalities Committee said.
With only 30 percent of female members of parliament (MPs), Britain was ranked 48th for representation by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), together with Nepal.
"A global ranking of 48th is shockingly low. We must rise to the challenge of being a world leader on women's parliamentary representation," Committee Chair and Conservative MP Maria Miller said in a statement.
Rwanda had the highest ranking, with women representing 64 percent of its parliament, followed by Bolivia (53 percent), Cuba (49 percent) and Iceland (48 percent).
Females account for 23 percent of some 46,000 parliamentarians worldwide, the IPU, an international organisation of parliaments that works for the establishment of representative democracy worldwide, said.
Most women MPs in all regions said they were subjected to sexism, harassment and violence from male lawmakers and are increasingly targeted by online humiliation campaigns, according to a 2016 IPU report.
Despite becoming Britain's second female head of government after Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May's appointment last July generated media reports focussing on her high heels and gender rather than her policies or capability as a prime minister.
Miller urged the government to do more to ensure faster progress towards equality, including having women represent at least 45 percent of parliament and local government by 2030.
"We need to see more women candidates in winnable seats," she said. "We must ensure that previous positive trends do not stagnate or reverse. There is no room for complacency."
(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Astrid Zweynert; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)