In only two countries have women received equal representation with men.
Women’s Global Political Representation 2012
The table below provides some important information on the representation of women in politics around the world.
In only two countries have women received equal representation with men and in only 31 countries has women’s representation reached 30%, the level the United Nations says is required for legislatures to produce public policy representing women’s concerns.
In addition to providing information about the level of representation, the table below shows which countries use quotas to further the election of women and what kind of quotas is used. Quotas can be voluntarily adopted by some or all political parties (such as in Canada) or they can be legislated by the government. Some legislated quotas require a certain level on a list of candidates (Belgium and Argentina), while others set aside a number of seats available to women only (Rwanda and Pakistan). List quotas can be directed at women (Bolivia and South Sudan) or set a minimum for either sex (Portugal and Kyrgyzstan) and range from as low as 10% (Niger) to as high as 50% (France and Belgium).
It is important to note that not all of these quotas ‘work’. In fact, in France the required quota is usually ignored – parties choose to pay the fines rather than comply.
Some of the countries listed as having no quotas have had them in the past (Ghana) and some use quotas at the subnational level (India), as do many of the countries also using quotas at the national level. For complete information on quotas, including in the upper house, at subnational levels, and the sanctions or punishment for failing to meet quotas see the Global Database Project of Quotas for Women.
LEVEL OF DEMOCRACY
It is also important to note that a number of the countries listed below (including those with quotas) fail to meet important democratic requirements. For example, although women constitute 45% of the lower house in Cuba, the independent democracy watch dog and database Freedom House ranks political rights in the country a mere 1 (out of 40), similarly although women have achieved greater than 50% representation in Rwanda, the Freedom House rating is under 10 (in 2011).
THE UNDER-REPRESENTED OF THE UNDER-REPRESENTED
It is important to have information about the under-representation of women in political institutions and the quotas employed to increase the presence of women, but the type of information that is available tells us something else what type of representation is thought to matter. While the level of women’s representation is readily available, it is much harder to find information about other sources of inequality in political representation –class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Not all women are equally under-represented and many women are further marginalized by race, class, or ethnicity and other under-represented identities – the data in the table below do not capture this.
Sources and Suggested Reading List
Dahlreup, D. & Freindenval, L. (2010). Judging gender quotas: predictions and results. Policy and Politics,38(3), 407-425.
Franceschet, S., Krook, M. L. & Jennifer M. Piscopo (eds). (2012). The Impact of Gender Quotas. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Freedom House. (n.d.) Freedom in the World: Aggregate and Subcategory Scores. Retrieved October 4, 2012 from http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world-2011/introduction.
Global Database Project of Quotas for Women. (2012) Quota Project. Retrieved January 31, 2011, from http://www.quotaproject.org/system.cfm.
Heard, A. (n.d.). Women and Elections. Retrieved October, 2012 from http://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/elections/women.html
Interparliamentary Union. (2012). Women in National Parliaments. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm.
Krook, M. L. (2009). Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide. New York: Oxford University Press
Krook, M. L. & Sarah Childs (eds). (2010). Women, Gender, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.