I say ‘gender equality’; you say ‘women in power!’

There are a bunch of ways to measure gender equality. While some believe that giving women the right to vote solved that problem long ago, women are still a long way from equal representation in politics. Why’s equal representation important? Women politicians are far more likely to hold women’s best interests at heart.

Without women’s participation in decision-making, women’s needs will never be fully respected.

Marijana Savic

Here’s a quick look at the top three countries for female representation in Parliament, with stats from a couple of superpowers thrown in for good measure.

Women Parliamentarians chart (China)
Top three countries for female representation in Parliament: Rwanda, Bolivia and Cuba, with UK, China, and USA for comparison (situation of 1st January 2017) | data from: Inter-Parliamentary Union

When you think of women’s rights, you probably don’t imagine Rwanda, Bolivia, and Cuba heading the list. But these three countries are taking equal representation seriously, and their numbers of female parliamentarians reflect that:

  1. Rwanda: Women hold 61.3% seats in the lower house and 38.5% in the upper house. Since 2003, the country has required that at least 30 percent of representatives be female.
  2. Bolivia: Women hold 53.1% of seats in the lower house and 47.2% in the upper house, following a 2009 measure requiring women to occupy at least 50 percent of elected positions.
  3. Cuba: Women hold 48.9% of seats in the single house since positive discrimination has put women in almost half the seats in the National Assembly.

Iceland, Nicaragua, Sweden, Senegal, Mexico, Finland and South Africa fill out the rest of the top 10. Here are the figures from a couple of superpowers, the UK at 47th, China at 74th, and USA at 104th, just for comparison:

  1. United Kingdom: Women parliamentarians have 30.0% of seats in the lower house and 25.8% in the upper house. The UK is currently governed by its’ second woman Prime Minister, Teresa May (whose love of eccentric shoes has confused the public for years).
  2. People’s Republic of China: 23.7% of the single house is female. That’s 699 seats of 2949 since the most recent election in 2013 (yes, those exist in local governments).
  3. United States of America: 19.1% of representatives (that’s 83 women out of 435 representatives) and 21.0% of senators are women. This reflects the outcome of the November 2016 elections, which the first female Presidential nominee of a major party in US history, Hillary Rodham Clinton, lost.
This is no laughing matter, Teresa May | gif from: Guardian

And finally…

190. At the bottom of the list, in joint 190th place, we have: Federated States of Micronesia, Qatar, Vanuatu, and Yemen. All four boast a total of no women in power anywhere in the political system.

Read on

‘Outside In’, episode exploring women’s social position in Rwanda, Invisibilia

‘Bolivian Women are breaking down barriers to seek political power’, Guardian

‘Party and State in Cuba: Gender Equality in Political Decision Making’, pdf

‘Women in National Parliaments’, Inter-Parliamentary Union

Four women’s rights activists you need to know, unfpa

Teresa May – What lies beyond the public image?, Guardian

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