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Influential Women in Parliament

6 Mar 2024
Read: 9 min

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, Leila Poel of the Lansons Public Affairs team, highlights seven influential women making their mark in Parliament right now.

Leila Poel
Leila Poel
Public Affairs Team
Influential Women in Parliament (2024)

In what will be a busy year for UK politics, we reflect on the women who are campaigning, shaping and influencing policy to better reflect the need and rights of women, be that tackling sexism and the gender pay gap in finance, advocating for greater equity in women’s football or championing women’s health through open and honest discussions around maternity leave.

Head to last year’s 2023 list to read how Rachel Reeves, Gillian Keegan and more carved out space for women in policy, a legacy that continues into 2024.

Annelise Dodds (Labour)

Labour MP for Oxford East since 2017, is the Chair of Labour Policy Review, and Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities. In addition, she holds the position of Party Chair of the Labour Party. Dodds’ three key positions enable her to have a unique influence over the shape of Labour’s upcoming manifesto pledges and the policies that will come into law should Labour win the general election, as current polls suggest.

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in October last year, she emphasised the importance of centring women in policy making. She highlighted, for example, one of Labour's flagship policies that will require every political party to publish data on the diversity of candidates for parliamentary elections in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as committing Labour to enshrining the ‘single source test’ in UK law.

How Dodds utilises her role as the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and her influence as Chair of the Labour Party and Labour Policy Review will be worth watching.

Kemi Badenoch (Conservative)

Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, has been an MP since 8 June 2017. She is currently Secretary of State for Business and Trade, President of the Board of Trade, and Minister for Women and Equalities.

Kemi went from a little-known backbencher to fourth-round candidate for leader after Boris Johnson’s resignation in 2022. Since then, she has consistently topped Cabinet popularity rankings, receiving some of the highest approval ratings for any Conservative MP. Though described in the media as "the new darling of the right", much of this success within the Conservative Party has come from her ability to bridge the gap between the centre and the right of the party on issues such as gender identity and those collected under the umbrella of ‘culture wars’.

Kemi has therefore quickly become one of the key figures tipped for future leadership, having been publicly endorsed by Conservative veteran Michael Gove. She will be one to watch throughout 2024.

Tulip Siddiq (Labour)

Labour representative for Hampstead and Kilburn, has been an MP since 7 May 2015. She currently undertakes the role of Shadow Economic Secretary to Treasury. Having previously worked at Amnesty International and Save the Children, working on international human rights and women's issues, Siddiq is also vice-chair of the Motherhood APPG and sits on the APPGs for Maternity and United Nations Women.

Currently at the helm of Labour economic and financial policymaking alongside Rachel Reeves MP, Siddiq led the financial services review in 2023 which would come to form the basis of Labour’s ‘Plan for Financial Services’; a key piece of policy for the party previously perceived to be anti-business. Speaking to the public’s well-placed fears of volatility in an election year, she said: “Overall we want to create stability, there’s no doubt if a Labour chancellor comes in, there will be differences. But we don’t want to rip up regulation that we have helped to shape and voted through.”

Siddiq hopes that Labour's economic policies will reflect the need of the global economy without threatening the way of life of women, vulnerable groups and minorities.

Michelle Donelan (Conservative)

Conservative MP for Chippenham, has been an MP since 7 May 2015 and currently holds the ministerial position of Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Donelan was appointed to her Cabinet position in February 2023, after she announced in December that she was expecting a baby. She therefore became the second Cabinet minister to formally take maternity leave, after the law was changed to allow then-Home Secretary Suella Braverman to go on maternity leave in 2021.

Donelan is said to have worked closely with her maternity cover, Chloe Smith, in the months before her 3-month maternity, with both women speaking very highly of one another. She has spoken about her mission to make the department “inspire the next generation of scientists and researchers to open up new opportunities and discoveries to help the UK become a science and technology superpower by 2030”. She has also supported UKRI, funded by the government, to increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) job, campaigning to level the playing field in a male-dominated sector.

Harriet Baldwin (Conservative)

Conservative MP for West Worcestershire, has been an MP continually since 6 May 2010. Within Parliament she holds the influential position of chair of the Treasury Select Committee and is a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Baldwin entered politics after a successful career in finance, having held the position of Managing Director and Head of Currency Management at JP Morgan in the 1980s. The financial service sector, while contributing enormously to the UK economy, does not reflect the population it represents, with low figures for women and people of colour in senior positions.

Baldwin, since becoming Chair of the Treasury Committee, has been championing women's rights across the sector, opening the inquiry ‘Sexism in the City’ into the barriers faced by women in finance. Most recently, she has turned to constitutional sexism, bringing back the ‘Hereditary Titles (Female Succession) Bill’, that ran out of debate time in the last Parliament, which hopes to allow the oldest child regardless of sex to inherit hereditary peerages in the House of Lords. She continues to battle for gender equality in the most antiquated policy-areas.

Jess Phillips (Labour)

Jess Phillips Labour representative for Birmingham, Yardley, has been an MP for this constituency for the last 9 years. She is renowned as a strong backbench speaker who amplifies the profile of important issues, particularly around austerity, domestic violence and sexual harassment.

She sits on multiple women-focused APPGs, including the Domestic Violence and Abuse APPG; Muslim Women APPG; United Nations Women APPG; and has spoken out frequently on issues relating to women. In her capacity as Co-Chair of the APPG on Women at Work, she has spotlighted the gender pay gap, the hurdles faced by women going through the menopause whilst working, as well as the gender-based dimension of pension inequality.

Sometimes seen as a controversial figure, she famously challenged Jeremy Corbyn after he failed to appoint any women to shadow the Great Offices of State (Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary), whilst also advocating extensively for police reform after the murder of Sarah Everard. Nevertheless, she is unapologetic in her championing of women’s rights in the UK political system.

Alicia Kearns (Conservative)

Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton since the 2019 general election. Kearns has also served Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee since October 2022, the first woman to ever be elected to the role, and the youngest ever female Chair of a Select Committee when appointed at age 34.

Her victory for the position over former Conservative party leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith, as well as former Defence Secretary Liam Fox and senior backbencher Richard Graham, was touted by some as miraculous. However, having previously been Director at Global Influence, a leading counter-terrorism and strategic communication projects for governments across the globe - after positions in both the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence – her selection did not reflect positive discrimination but reflected a meritocratic system many women hope should be the norm.

Since her appointment, she has steered the Foreign Affairs Committee through inquiries into the influence of Russian companies in the UK after Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, as well as scrutinising the work of the ex-PM and now Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, making the most of the influence this role affords her.

Tracey Crouch (Conservative)

Tracey Crouch is a Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford and had continually served the constituency since 6 May 2010 and will be standing down at the 2024 General Election.

Before her time in Politics, Tracey qualified FA football coach and managed a youth girls football team, which she kept up in her spare time in office. She has been an outspoken advocate of women’s football in Parliament and in public and has been instrumental in the Parliament briefing; ‘Football governance – time for change?’ which includes a review of growth within women’s football. She also chairs the Women’s Football APPG as well as the Football Supports APPG, pushing women’s equal sporting rights up the political agenda.

Moreover, following a miscarriage during the 2015 election, which she spoke publicly about in the hopes of reducing the stigma around motherhood in the public eye, she he gave birth to her first child in February 2016 and became the first Conservative minister ever to take maternity leave.

First published in Political Capital - our weekly public affairs and polling news drop


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