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209 Women was an artist-led project devised by photographer Hilary Wood in 2018. It celebrates 100 years of Women in Parliament by inviting woman photographers to make a portrait of sitting woman MPs. In the 2018 General Election, 209 women were elected to the House of Commons, and 207 took part in the project.

1918 was a year of many milestones for women in Parliament:

  • The Representation of the People Act enabled some women over 30 to vote for the first time in the December 1918 general election.
  • The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowed women over 21 to stand as MPs on equal terms as men for the first time.
  • Constance Markievicz became the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons. However, as a member of Sinn Féin, she did not take her seat.

“The women’s movement has never been about one person’s achievement: it is about all of us,” said Alison McGovern MP, former chair of the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art. Reflecting on 209 Women, she added: “This project carries out that vision, including all kinds of women from all kinds of backgrounds. It is a subtle but very true statement of equality.”

Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst, said: “To represent and be presented for what we are – as women, by women – is a very special thing. This is what 209 Women is all about.”

View the gallery

Each MP was photographed by a different woman photographer. Select an image below to see the photograph, and read the caption. Where the photographer has given us a statement about their work, this is displayed alongside the photograph.

This gallery contains 204 photographs taken during the project. These photographs were displayed in Portcullis House in 2019. As members of Sinn Féin choose not to sit in Westminster, members from the party requested to be absent from the display.

Select an image to start.

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