Women pioneers in parliament

As Theresa May gets to grips with life in 10 Downing Street, Julie V Gottlieb traces the trials and tribulations of Britain's first female MPs

Viscountess Nancy Astor on her election campaign in 1919. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the October 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine 

One striking aspect of British political life in the aftermath of the EU referendum is the prominence of women in the political sphere. Women are in, or have challenged for, leadership positions at all points of the political spectrum. Within three weeks of polling day, the Conservative party had appointed its second female prime minister, Theresa May. Angela Eagle briefly threw her hat into the ring for the leadership of the Labour party. Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood head the SNP and Plaid Cymru in Scotland and Wales respectively. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Hillary Clinton is the favourite to win November’s US presidential election – and become the most powerful person in the world.

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