International women’s day 2012: women’s representation in politics 


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Today will mark the 101st International Women’s Day (IWD) with thousands of events planned across the world to mark the occasion.

Last year, we looked at the pay gap between men and women but thanks to a great new piece of research by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, we’ve decided to focus on how women are progressing in politics worldwide. Where are women MPs making their mark and which countries have the best gender representations in politics?

There are currently 17 countries with women as head of government, head of state or both, which according to IPU and UN Women has more than doubled since 2005. The ’Women in Politics 2012’ map below ranks the percentage of women in ministerial positions and in parliament by country. The map also highlights world and regional averages of women in parliament. Click on the link below to explore the full screen version.

The report marks slow advances in the political landscape - the number of lower houses hosting more than 30% women rose slightly from 25 to 30 in 2011 - and although the results show progress IPU Secretary General, Anders B. Johnsson says:

"Less than one-in-five parliamentarians in the world today are women. It is a worrying statistic at this point of human development and impossible to justify. The political will to change this is simply lacking in most cases."

The world average for women in parliament stood at 19.5% in 2011, a 0.5 percentage point increase from the previous year. The european average (including Nordic countries) was 22.3% although Nordic countries led the way internationally with an average of 42% with Sweden and Finland in the top ten of the rankings. The graph above details regional averages alongside the world average.

A ranking of countries by the percentage of women in parliament, which can be found in the table below, shows some interesting results. Here are the key points:

• 21.8% of all seats up for renewal in 2011 in 69 chambers across 59 countries were won by women

• 21.8% of the unicameral or lower house seats up for renewal, and 21.7% of the upper house seats were taken by women

• 16.7% - the percentage of women ministers in 2012 compred with 14.2% in 2005

• 45 of the 80 seats in the lower house are taken by women in Rwanda

• Seven countries on the rankings list have no female represenation in parliament

• 53rd place on the rankings goes to the UK alongside Malawi, with both countries recording female representation at 22.3%. In the UK, 145 of the 650 seats are taken by women

Rankings of the percentage of women in ministerial positions can also be found in the report - there has been a modest increase from 14.2% in 2005 to 16.7% in 2012. The table below shows the rankings for women in parliament by country. The world and regional averages and rankings for women in ministerial positions can be found in our spreadsheet to download.

What can you do with this data?


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