2015 – well, it seemed like a pretty dire year for women in British politics. Although David Cameron appointed a record number of women to office, 191 out of 650 is still not great, and just because women now make up 29% of the lower chamber, it doesn't necessarily mean that policy is any more likely to swing in our favour now or over the next few years.
However, outside of the main two political parties, Conservative and Labour, women are ruling the roost. Nobody could forget the viral image of three leaders – Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party), Natalie Bennett (Green Party) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) – having a three-way hug whilst Ed Miliband looked on at the leaders’ debate.
Sturgeon was an emblem of success in the 2015 election; under her leadership, the SNP gained more votes and power than many thought possible. On top of this, Wood mentioned that part of her focus as leader would be on working class women, who are often hardest hit by Westminster politics.
Despite the rise in female representation in Parliament, the Tory government’s austerity politics have meant exactly what Wood predicted: policies that disproportionately harm women who need political support the most. For example, the Chancellor George Osborne – in an ironic move – decided that the £15 million a year made from the so-called 'Tampon Tax' would go back to funding women’s health charities and women's shelters. Sure, support for these refuges is desperately needed but not at the expense of women with periods only, but everyone.
In brief, then, it was a mixed year for women in the political sphere. Here, we look back at some of the key players of 2015 – particularly those left of the centre – who have really been shaking up British politics.