News / Asia

Women’s Representation in World Parliaments Remains Low

Lisa Schlein

A new survey released to coincide with International Women’s Day shows women are making political gains, but their numbers in world parliaments remain low.  The survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union finds just over 19 percent of parliamentarians worldwide are women, compared to 16.3 percent in 2005.  

As in previous years, the Nordic countries come out on top with an average of nearly 42 percent women in parliament.  The survey finds Arab states are at the bottom of the world table for women in parliament; nevertheless the region is making progress, going up from 4.3 percent in 1995 to 11.7 percent last year.

In the Americas, Costa Rica has the highest level of participation of women in politics with nearly 39 percent, compared to about 17 percent for the United States.  

In other findings, the survey shows a slightly backward trend in both Europe and Asia, a large drop in the Pacific states and no big changes in Sub-Saharan Africa, where an average of 19.2 percent of women have been elected to parliaments.

The secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Anders Johnson, says quotas remain the single most effective way of increasing the number of women in politics.  Otherwise, he says no progress is made.

“Once women get into parliament, it is a lot easier for women to actually have sway and influence, if there are more than one or two," said Anders Johnson. "You need to move beyond symbolic numbers, and that is why there has been such a huge push, both within the U.N. and the IPU to reach what we call this threshold of 30 percent.  And more and more countries are reaching that threshold.”  

The survey finds women politicians worldwide generally do not get equal coverage with men in the media.  And when they do, the women report coverage tends to dwell more on what they are wearing and how they look than on their political positions.

Johnson says laws change for the better when more women are in parliament.  He says women bring something to the table that men do not.  They are more sensitive to social issues.

“We argue that in fact the laws that are made, the work that is made in parliament is better because of that," he said. "It is better attuned to the needs of society. In some countries, you will find that they start addressing issues, which are of particular concern to women…for example about violence against women or genital mutilation of women.  These are issues that very often are driven by women and through their presence in parliament, they are able to force change on those issues.”  

Johnson says the IPU is closely following events in the Middle East.  He says the organization is concerned at the noticeable absence of women in the bodies of power that are taking over in Egypt and Tunisia.  For example, in Egypt, he says there is not a single woman involved in the committee that is drafting a new constitution.

He says the IPU plans to work with both Egypt and Tunisia to make sure they focus attention on women, on gender equality and on women’s ability to be elected to their national parliaments.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid