Women in Government

2 minute read

A July report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that 16 out of 34 OECD countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., are failing to meet a 30% benchmark of female representation in lower houses of government and in ministerial positions. Although the number of female legislators has nearly doubled since 1995, women hold only 22.2% of parliamentary positions worldwide. Here, three numbers that illustrate gender representation in the global political arena:


The number of female parliamentarians elected in Finland in 1907, a year after the country became the first to give women unrestricted rights to vote and stand for election. Today 62.5% of ministerial positions in Finland are held by women. Nordic legislatures overall are 41.3% female, outpacing other regions in gender diversity.


The percentage of female lawmakers in Rwanda’s lower house, giving it the world’s highest level of female representation in parliament. Twenty years ago, only 4.3% of government positions in Rwanda were held by women, but the rate shot up after quotas were introduced in 2003 reserving almost one-third of parliamentary seats for women.


The number of states with all-male single and lower houses of parliament. Four of the five–Micronesia, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu–are in the Pacific region, which has long lagged behind the global average. Women are also absent from Qatar’s parliament. In an additional 33 countries, including Japan, Brazil and Iran, women make up less than 10% of parliamentarians.


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Write to Naina Bajekal at naina.bajekal@time.com