As the UK General Election looms and our interest in politics heightens (or maybe wanes!) the Inter-Parliamentary Union 20 year Report on Women in Parliament published in 2015 highlights where progress has been made and where it hasn’t.
Women’s political participation has made progress over the years, but just not enough and not at a fast enough pace, IPU’s Women in Parliament: 20 years in Review 2015 has shown. In the 20 years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action on women’s empowerment and gender equality, the percentage of women in parliament has nearly doubled to 22.1 per cent today and that of women Speakers has reached 15.8 per cent, but in both cases, gender parity remains a long way off.
For women in executive government, the situation is even worse. In the 10 years since IPU has released data on women ministers and heads of State/government, the percentage of women ministers has increased by only 3.5 points to stand at 17.7 per cent at the beginning of January this year.
Heads of State
Meanwhile, women account for only 6.6 per cent of all heads of State and 7.3 per cent of all heads of government. Some countries and regions are doing better than others, with the Americas heading the IPU regional rankings for both women in parliament and in government.
Electoral quotas in more than 120 countries have underpinned what progress there has been but the slow pace of positive change could be a signal that the impact of quotas is wearing off, requiring other complementary measures to dramatically increase women’s political participation.
The success of the new sustainable development agenda to be adopted later this year will depend on getting more women involved in political decision-making.
And in case you’re wondering the UK ranks 62 (out of 174) with 22.8% female representation (up from 9.2% in 1995).
Be sure to vote on 7 May.