Women lead: Transforming women’s candidate selection prospects within political parties

Political parties
Women's political leadership

Women lead: Transforming women’s candidate selection prospects within political parties

20 February 2024 - 21 February 2024
Two-day conference

United Kingdom


This expert conference aims to shine light on political party practices that identify and nurture women candidates and support them on to positions of party leadership. Political leaders representing parties from around the world will both showcase and learn about reforms and innovations that political parties can adopt to better support women candidates. Participants will lead debates on how to identify, nurture, promote, and expand female talent within their parties, focusing on candidate recruitment, support, and selection.

Why the conference is needed

Political parties play a fundamental role in participatory democracies and candidate recruitment is one of the most important things they do.

How well political parties recruit, prepare, and select candidates directly affects how well democratic institutions, such as parliaments and governments, are able to perform.

Political parties thereby determine how truly representative governing bodies can be. Moreover, in doing so, they inherently affect whether people’s needs guide decision making.

Gaps in representation are linked to lower levels of public trust. Across the globe, the underrepresentation of women has a direct impact on the quality of governance.

What is more, how candidates are recruited and selected reflects the democratic credentials of a political party and, in some ways, its maturity as a representative organisation.

Despite its obvious importance, candidate recruitment processes largely remain opaque - “the secret garden of politics.”

The absence of transparency, consistency and applied rules affects whether women and other underrepresented groups are successful in these processes, but also whether they even consider putting themselves forward. Wider societal barriers to women in politics (violence, money, and patriarchal society structures) seep directly into and often undermine both formal and informal party candidate selection procedures.

A pledge to action

During this conference political parties will be encouraged to make a pledge to introduce reforms to further support women’s leadership within their parties.

In partnership, the UK political parties and WFD commit to supporting transformative measures within parties that make the pledge for action.

UK Political Parties and WFD

Alongside our programmes, WFD supports the international work of UK political parties. WFD’s political party programmes support women to navigate and overcome the structural barriers and biases they face when attempting to run for elected office.

A group of women standing