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New report shows huge gap remains for women’s representation in politics

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A major new report by a coalition of democracy organisations reveals that despite progress on May 7th, there is still a long way to go before women are equally represented in politics. “To date, there have been just 450 women MPs in Britain’s history – below the number of male MPs who currently sit in the House of Commons (459).”

Sex and Power 2015, coordinated by the Centre for Women and Democracy’s Nan Sloane, is the first study on women in politics since the General Election – and offers significant new insights into the state of female representation in British democracy today.

Key findings:

– To date, there have been just 450 women MPs in Britain’s history – below the number of male MPs who currently sit in the Commons (459)

– At the last General Election, 54% of Labour candidates in target seats were women, as well as 45% of Greens, 41% of Lib Dems, 35% of Conservatives, and 37% of the SNP’s candidates

– Women made up 26% of all candidates on May 7th (up from 21% in 2010), with the Greens, Labour and the SNP having the most (37%, 36% and 33% respectively), while just 12% of UKIP candidates were female.

The research has also found that women make up:

– Under a third (32%) of government Cabinet members, and 24% of junior government posts

– 26% of the whole government (seven in the Cabinet and 20 in ministerial roles)

– Only 21% of the government’s Implementation Taskforces – key decision-making bodies

– 24% of Cabinet Committee and Sub-Committee places. There are no female chairs of these committees.

In addition, just 22% of Select Committee chairs elected in June are women, while of the 303 places on Parliamentary committees, 33% are women.

Outside of the government, women make up 55% of the Liberal Democrats’ new Shadow Cabinet, 52% of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, and 50% of SNP spokespeople.

The report recommends five key areas for improving female representation:

 – Know the Facts: the Electoral Commission should gather information on the diversity of candidates, with Equalities Monitoring Forms

– Commit to Change: Parties should take urgent steps to boost the number of female candidates – reviewing selection procedures, publishing action plans and considering positive action

– A Better Working Environment: Parliament and parties should implement paid maternity and paternity leave, revisit working hours, and offer diversity awareness training and advice. All parties should have rigorous complaints procedures regarding sexual harassment

– Promote Women: Parties should commit to 50:50 cabinet/shadow cabinet teams by 2020

– An Equal Voice: The media should cover female politicians in line with the NUJ Code of Conduct

Nan Sloane, report author and Director of the Centre for Women & Democracy: “The outcomes for women in Parliament at this year’s election are largely encouraging, but they also demonstrate how far we have to go, not just in terms of women MPs per se, but also when it comes to the nitty gritty of government and, in particular, to the House of Lords, which remains both undemocratic and unrepresentative. We get real change when both political parties and the wider Westminster village focus on achieving it, and hopefully this report will help them to do that in a meaningful way.”

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society: “Clearly we still have a long way to go before women are fairly represented in politics. The public want our democratic institutions to reflect real life, not a boys’ club. To make that happen, we could start by scrapping our out-dated voting system, as countries with more proportional systems have a much better record for female representation.”

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society: “Real progress has been made on women’s representation in the commons – but it’s time to speed up the pace of change.

“We need political parties to take stock and focus on how to achieve 50:50 representation by 2020. Failing to do that means that our politics remains out of touch and is missing out on much needed talent and expertise.

“There are a range of positive steps that the political parties can take but evidence shows that the use of all women shortlists remains by far the most effective.  With more women standing for parliament than ever before, equality in Parliament is more than achievable and it is long overdue”

Ruth Fox, Director & Head of Research at the Hansard Society: “There was modest progress in female representation in Parliament at the election, and the number of ministers has increased, but the fact that no woman chairs a major Cabinet Committee or Sub-Committee is disappointing. It is at these meetings that the vital decisions affecting women’s lives are made and the chair is often key in driving the agenda and chasing progress.”

Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy: “The lack of women in senior decision making roles is not just unjust, it is wasteful. Britain is missing out on women’s contributions. It is a symptom of just how unrepresentative our democracy is of wider society.

“The pace of improvement is still too slow and the best person for the job may still be snubbed because of gender inequalities. Political parties can and must commit to making the changes sorely needed to enable women to achieve their full potential in politics.”

Read Sex and Power 2015 here.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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