GENEVA - The Inter-Parliamentary Union finds more women around the world are winning seats in their national parliaments, with the best gains being made in countries that have well-designed quota systems.
The report finds women’s representation in national parliaments rose by nearly 1 percentage point last year to 24.3 percent. This may seem a modest increase, but this figure indicates an ongoing upward trend of women’s participation in politics since the 1995 World Women’s Conference in Beijing. At that time, only 11 percent of women were in parliament. Their share has now more than doubled.
IPU Secretary-General Martin Chungong says he also is heartened by the greater diversity in the makeup of women’s representation in parliament.
“We are seeing more women of native origin," he said. "We are seeing more women of color coming into parliaments around the world. And if we take the United States, for instance, we saw a noticeable improvement in parliamentary diversity, with Native Americans making inroads into parliament, women of color increasing their share of parliamentary representation. And we even see the entry into parliament of two Muslim women.”
Chungong notes the United States shot up in the global rankings of women parliamentarians from 137th position in 2017 to 79th place last year. The survey finds women now occupy about one-quarter of all seats in both houses of Congress.
As in previous years, Rwanda continues to hold the top spot in the rankings with more than 61 percent of women parliamentarians. Two other African countries, Namibia and South Africa, are in the top 10.
The IPU finds 65th-ranked Djibouti made the most dramatic gains regionally and globally among lower and single chambers. It says the share of women in parliament rose from nearly 11 percent to more than 26 percent.
The report says the Americas continue to lead all regions in terms of the average share of women in parliament with 30.6 percent. This contrasts with the Middle East and North Africa, with the lowest regional average of slightly more than 18 percent female parliamentarians.