Latest Issue

Forget feel-good diversity—women MPs have made a practical difference

Through hard graft, the women of Westminster have steadily transformed the lives of women across the country

By Rachel Reeves   May 2019

Trailblazer: Nancy Astor campaigning during the 1919 by-election. Photo: Shutterstock

Nancy Astor entered parliament a century ago with a singular mission: to improve the lives of women. She was the first woman to take up a seat in the Commons, and while the symbolic importance of that fact has registered, what’s less appreciated is how vital her gender was for her practical work. She worked—as Labour’s Ellen Wilkinson later put it—“like a terrier” to give a voice to the thousands of women who wrote to her every week.


Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect