In only two countries have women received equal representation with men.

Angela Merkel speaks at the World Economic Forum.

Angela Merkel speaks at the World Economic Forum.

Women’s Global Political Representation 2012

The table below provides some important information on the representation of women in politics around the world.

WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION

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.

QUOTAS

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).

Freedom House scores are available here.

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.

Women’s Global Political Representation 2012

Rank
Country
Lower or single House
Upper House or Senate
Gender Quotas in lower house
Elections Seats* Women % W Elections Seats* Women % W
1 Rwanda Sep-08 80 45 56.30% Sep-11 26 10 38.50% 24 reserved, women-only seats
2 Andorra Apr-11 28 14 50.00%
3 Cuba Jan-08 586 265 45.20%
4 Sweden Sep-10 349 156 44.70% Volunteer party quotas
5 Seychelles Sep-11 32 14 43.80%
6 Senegal Jun-12 150 64 42.70% Aug-07 100 40 40.00% 50% list quotas, alternating men and women
7 Finland Apr-11 200 85 42.50%
8 South Africa Apr-09 400 169 42.30% Apr-09 53 17 32.10% Volunteer party quotas
9 Netherlands Jun-10 150 61 40.70% May-11 75 27 36.00% Volunteer party quotas
10 Nicaragua Nov-11 92 37 40.20% Volunteer party quotas
11 Iceland Apr-09 63 25 39.70% Volunteer party quotas
12 Norway Sep-09 169 67 39.60% Volunteer party quotas
13 Mozambique Oct-09 250 98 39.20% Volunteer party quotas
14 Denmark Sep-11 179 70 39.10%
15 Costa Rica Feb-10 57 22 38.60% 40% list quotas, alternating men and women
16 Angola Sep-08 220 84 38.20% No less than 30% of either gender
17 Belgium Jun-10 150 57 38.00% Jun-10 71 29 40.80% Equal representation of both genders on any list, alternating men and women
18 Argentina Oct-11 257 96 37.40% Oct-11 72 28 38.90% 30% list quota
18 Mexico Jul-12 500 186 37.20% Jul-12 128 35% Political parties are required to guarantee that women constitute at least 40 percent of candidates.
19 Spain Nov-11 350 126 36.00% Nov-11 263 88 33.50% A minimum of 40% and a maximum of 60% of either gender
19 United Republic of Tanzania Oct-10 350 126 36.00% 126 reserved, women-only seats
20 Uganda Feb-11 386 135 35.00% 112 district women representatives
21 Nepal Apr-08 594 197 33.20% 50% list quotas
22 Germany Sep-09 620 204 32.90% N.A. 69 19 27.50% Volunteer party quotas
23 Serbia May-12 250 81 32.40% 30% of either sex required
24 Ecuador Apr-09 124 40 32.30% Slates must be equal and alternating men and women
25 New Zealand Nov-11 121 39 32.20%
25 Slovenia Dec-11 90 29 32.20% Nov-07 40 1 2.50% 35% of either gender on a list
26 Belarus Sep-08 110 35 31.80% Jul-08 58 19 32.80%
27 Algeria May-11 462 146 31.60% Dec-09 136 7 5.10% Volunteer party quotas
28 Guyana Nov-11 67 21 31.30% 1/3 of lists must be women
29 The F.Y.R. of Macedonia Jun-11 123 38 30.90% One in every three places on lists will be reserved for the less represented sex
30 Timor-Leste Jul-12 65 20 30.80% One in every four places on lists is reserved for women
31 Burundi Jul-10 105 32 30.50% Jul-10 41 19 46.30% One in every four candidates must be a women
32 Portugal Jun-11 230 66 28.70% A minimum of 33% of either sex on an electoral list
33 Trinidad and Tobago May-10 42 12 28.60% Jun-10 31 8 25.80% Volunteer party quotas
34 Switzerland Oct-11 200 57 28.50% Oct-11 46 9 19.60% Volunteer party quotas
35 Austria Sep-08 183 51 27.90% Not Elections 61 19 31.10% Volunteer party quotas
36 Ethiopia May-10 547 152 27.80% May-10 135 22 16.30%
37 Afghanistan Sep-10 249 69 27.70% Jan-11 102 28 27.50% Two members from each province must be a women
38 France Jun-12 577 155 26.90% Sep-11 347 77 22.20% The difference between the genders must not be more than 2%
39 Tunisia Oct-11 217 58 26.70% List must have equal men and women
40 South Sudan Aug-11 332 88 26.50% Aug-11 50 5 10.00% 25% women required
41 El Salvador Mar-12 84 22 26.20% Volunteer party quotas
42 Bolivia Dec-09 130 33 25.40% Dec-09 36 17 47.20% At least one out of every three candidates on a list must be a women
43 Iraq Mar-10 325 82 25.20% At least one out of every three candidates on a list must be a women
44 Lao People’s Democratic Republic Apr-10 132 33 25.00%
44 Lesotho May-12 120 30 25.00% Jun-12 33 9 27.30%
44 Luxembourg Jun-09 60 15 25.00% Volunteer party quotas
45 Australia Aug-10 150 37 24.70% Aug-10 76 29 38.20% Volunteer party quotas
45 Canada May-11 308 76 24.70% Not Elections 103 39 37.90% Volunteer party quotas
46 Sudan Apr-10 354 87 24.60% May-10 28 5 17.90% %25 seats reserved for women
47 Namibia Nov-09 78 19 24.40% Nov-10 26 7 26.90%
47 Viet Nam Apr-11 500 122 24.40%
48 Kazakhstan Jan-12 107 26 24.30% Aug-11 47 2 4.30%
49 Liechtenstein Feb-09 25 6 24.00%
50 Croatia Dec-11 151 36 23.80% Volunteer party quotas
51 Poland Oct-11 460 109 23.70% Oct-11 100 13 13.00% The number of either gender cannot be less than 35%
52 Singapore May-11 98 23 23.50%
53 Kyrgyzstan Oct-10 120 28 23.30% At leat 30% of either gender on electoral lists
54 Latvia Sep-11 100 23 23.00%
55 Philippines May-10 284 65 22.90% May-10 23 3 13.00% Volunteer party quotas
56 Pakistan Feb-08 342 77 22.50% Mar-12 104 17 16.30% 60 (17.5%) of seats are reserved for women
57 Malawi May-09 193 43 22.30%
57 United Kingdom May-10 650 145 22.30% Not elected 827 181 21.90% Volunteer party quotas
58 Mauritania Nov-06 95 21 22.10% Nov-09 56 8 14.30% Among the total number of candidates on the list, one sex can only surpass the other by one
59 Czech Republic May-10 200 44 22.00% Oct-10 81 15 18.50% Volunteer party quotas
59 Eritrea Feb-94 150 33 22.00% 30% of seats are reserved for women
59 Uzbekistan Dec-09 150 33 22.00% Jan-10 100 15 15.00% The number of women cannot be less than 30%
60 Italy Apr-08 630 136 21.60% Apr-08 321 61 19.00% Volunteer party quotas
61 Peru Apr-11 130 28 21.50% 25% quota
62 Bosnia and Herzegovina Oct-10 42 9 21.40% Jun-11 15 2 13.30% One third of lists should be of the underrepresented seats
63 China Mar-08 2978 635 21.30% 22% of deputies should be women
64 Greece Jun-12 300 63 21.00% Volunteer party quotas
65 Bulgaria Jul-09 240 50 20.80%
65 Cape Verde Feb-11 72 15 20.80%
65 Dominican Republic May-10 183 38 20.80% May-10 32 3 9.40% 33% quota provision
66 Cambodia Jul-08 123 25 20.30% Jan-12 59 8 13.60%
67 Israel Feb-09 120 24 20.00% Volunteer party quotas
68 Estonia Mar-11 101 20 19.80%
68 Republic of Moldova Nov-10 101 20 19.80%
69 Bangladesh Dec-08 350 69 19.70% 45 (13%) of seats are reserved for women
70 Honduras Nov-09 128 25 19.50% 30% of candidates on lists are reserved for women
71 Lithuania Oct-08 141 27 19.10% Volunteer party quotas
72 Monaco Feb-08 21 4 19.00%
72 Tajikistan Feb-10 63 12 19.00% Mar-10 34 5 14.70%
73 Mauritius May-10 69 13 18.80%
74 San Marino Nov-08 60 11 18.30%
75 Indonesia Apr-09 560 102 18.20% At least one in every three candidates on a list must be a women
75 Sao Tome and Principe Aug-10 55 10 18.20%
76 Madagascar Oct-10 365 64 17.50% Oct-10 164 20 12.20%
76 United Arab Emirates Sep-11 40 7 17.50%
77 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Dec-10 23 4 17.40%
78 Slovakia Mar-12 150 26 17.30% Volunteer party quotas
79 Morocco Nov-11 395 67 17.00% Oct-09 270 6 2.20% Unknown
79 Venezuela Sep-10 165 28 17.00%
80 United States of America Nov-10 431 73 16.90% Nov-11 100 17 17.00%
81 Turkmenistan Dec-08 125 21 16.80%
82 Saint Lucia Nov-11 18 3 16.70% Jan-12 11 2 18.20%
83 Libya Jul-12 200 33 16.50% Mandatory alternating of men and women on electoral lists
84 Azerbaijan Nov-10 125 20 16.00%
85 Gabon Dec-11 114 18 15.80% Jan-09 102 18 17.60%
85 Thailand Jul-11 500 79 15.80% Apr-11 149 23 15.40% Volunteer party quotas
86 Albania May-09 140 22 15.70% At least one of every three candidates on a listand/or one of the top three candidates must be of either gender
86 Republic of Korea Apr-12 300 47 15.70% Lists should be 50% women and it is recommended that 30% of candidates for districts should be women
87 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Mar-09 687 107 15.60%
88 Burkina Faso May-07 111 17 15.30% List of candidates must include 30% of either sex
89 Ireland Feb-11 166 25 15.10% Apr-11 60 18 30.00% One half of state funding will be denied parties who didn’t run at least 30% in the past election
90 Zimbabwe Mar-08 214 32 15.00% Mar-08 99 24 24.20% Volunteer party quotas
91 Chile Dec-09 120 17 14.20% Dec-09 38 5 13.20% Volunteer party quotas
91 Turkey Jun-11 550 78 14.20%
92 Cameroon Jul-07 180 25 13.90% Volunteer party quotas
93 Djibouti Feb-08 65 9 13.80% Each party must ensure no less than 10% of candidates elected are of either sex
94 Russian Federation Dec-11 450 61 13.60% N.A. 169 8 4.70%
94 Swaziland Sep-08 66 9 13.60% Oct-08 30 12 40.00%
95 Grenada Jul-08 15 2 13.30% Aug-08 13 3 23.10%
95 Guatemala Sep-11 158 21 13.30% Volunteer party quotas
95 Niger Jan-11 113 15 13.30% 10% of a party’s elected officials must be women
96 Bahamas May-12 38 5 13.20% May-12 16 4 25.00%
97 Mongolia Jun-12 69 9 13.00% 20% of candidates on lists must be women
98 Sierra Leone Aug-07 124 16 12.90%
99 Chad Feb-11 188 24 12.80%
100 Jamaica Dec-11 63 8 12.70% Sep-07 21 5 23.80%
101 Central African Republic Jan-11 104 13 12.50%
101 Dominica Dec-09 32 4 12.50%
101 Paraguay Apr-08 80 10 12.50% Apr-08 45 7 15.60% Parites are required to have internal mechanisms to ensure that no fewer than 20% of elected officials are women
102 Montenegro Mar-09 81 10 12.30%
103 Colombia Mar-10 165 20 12.10% Mar-10 100 16 16.00% For lists of five of more, a minimum of 30% must be women.
103 Uruguay Oct-09 99 12 12.10% Oct-09 31 4 12.90% Both sexes must be represented in every three candidates
104 Syrian Arab Republic May-12 250 30 12.00%
105 Suriname May-10 51 6 11.80%
106 Zambia Sep-11 157 18 11.50%
107 Romania Nov-08 330 37 11.20% Nov-08 136 8 5.90% Volunteer party quotas
108 Togo Oct-07 81 9 11.10%
109 Cote d’Ivoire Dec-11 254 28 11.00% Volunteer party quotas
109 India Apr-09 545 60 11.00% Jan-12 245 26 10.60%
109 Liberia Oct-11 73 8 11.00% Oct-11 30 4 13.30%
110 Japan Aug-09 480 52 10.80% Jul-10 242 45 18.60%
110 Jordan Nov-10 120 13 10.80% Oct-11 60 7 11.70% 12 reserved women only seats, one in each district
111 Armenia May-12 131 14 10.70%
111 Cyprus May-11 56 6 10.70% Volunteer party quotas
112 Antigua and Barbuda Mar-09 19 2 10.50% Apr-09 17 5 29.40%
113 Malaysia Mar-08 221 23 10.40% N.A. 66 15 22.70%
114 Mali Jul-07 147 15 10.20% Volunteer party quotas
115 Bahrain Oct-10 40 4 10.00% Nov-10 40 11 27.50%
115 Barbados Jan-08 30 3 10.00% Feb-08 21 7 33.30%
115 Equatorial Guinea May-08 100 10 10.00%
115 Guinea-Bissau Nov-08 100 10 10.00%
116 Kenya Dec-07 224 22 9.80% 47 seats reserved for women, one for each county
117 Democratic Republic of the Congo Nov-11 492 44 8.90% Jan-07 108 5 4.60%
118 Hungary Apr-10 386 34 8.80% Volunteer party quotas
119 Kiribati Oct-11 46 4 8.70%
119 Malta Mar-08 69 6 8.70% Volunteer party quotas
120 Brazil Oct-10 513 44 8.60% Oct-10 81 13 16.00% 30% of candidate lists for chamber of Deputies must be women
121 Bhutan Mar-08 47 4 8.50% Dec-07 25 6 24.00%
121 Panama May-09 71 6 8.50% 30% quota for internal party elections (primaries) and general elections
122 Benin Apr-11 83 7 8.40%
123 Ghana Dec-08 230 19 8.30%
124 Ukraine Sep-07 450 36 8.00%
125 Botswana Oct-09 63 5 7.90% Volunteer party quotas
126 Gambia Mar-12 53 4 7.50%
127 Nigeria Apr-11 352 24 6.80% Apr-11 109 7 6.40%
127 Somalia Aug-04 546 37 6.80%
128 Saint Kitts and Nevis Jan-10 15 1 6.70%
128 Tuvalu Sep-10 15 1 6.70%
129 Georgia May-08 137 9 6.60%
130 Maldives May-09 77 5 6.50%
131 Kuwait Jun-12 63 4 6.30%
132 Myanmar Nov-10 431 26 6.00% Nov-10 224 4 1.80%
133 Sri Lanka Apr-10 225 13 5.80%
134 Haiti Nov-10 95 4 4.20% Nov-10 30 1 3.30% minimum 30 % quota for women in all elected and appointed positions at the national level
135 Samoa Mar-11 49 2 4.10%
136 Tonga Nov-10 28 1 3.60%
137 Belize Mar-12 32 1 3.10% Mar-12 13 5 38.50%
137 Iran (Islamic Republic of) May-12 290 9 3.10%
137 Lebanon Jun-09 128 4 3.10%
138 Comoros Dec-09 33 1 3.00%
138 Marshall Islands Nov-11 33 1 3.00%
139 Papua New Guinea Jun-12 111 3 2.70%
140 Egypt Nov-11 508 10 2.00% Jan-12 180 5 2.80% parties are obliged to nominate at least one woman as part of their district candidate lists which they have to submit for the 46 districts
141 Vanuatu Sep-08 52 1 1.90%
142 Oman Oct-11 84 1 1.20% Oct-11 83 15 18.10%
143 Yemen Apr-03 301 1 0.30% Apr-01 111 2 1.80%
144 Micronesia (Federated States of) Mar-11 14 0 0.00%
144 Nauru Jun-10 18 0 0.00%
144 Palau Nov-08 16 0 0.00% Nov-08 13 2 15.40%
144 Qatar Jul-10 35 0 0.00%
144 Saudi Arabia Feb-09 150 0 0.00%
144 Solomon Islands Aug-10 49 0 0.00%