Women in All Parliaments Around the World
Women have made significant strides in politics in recent years, with more and more female parliament members being elected to public office around the world. 2023 marks the first year that women hold a seat in all parliaments around the world. This is a positive step forward for gender equality and the empowerment of women in politics, as it brings diversity and a fresh perspective to decision-making processes that were previously dominated by men. But is that enough?
Female parliament members bring a unique set of skills and experiences to the table, as they often face different challenges and obstacles than their male counterparts. They are more likely to prioritize issues that affect women and children, such as healthcare, education, and family policies, and are more likely to advocate for gender equality and women’s rights.
In addition, having a greater number of female parliament members can lead to more inclusive policies that benefit all members of society. Studies have shown that women in politics are more likely to collaborate and compromise, leading to more effective decision-making and better outcomes for their constituents.
It Looks Different in Every Country
In Denmark, the first 9 female members of parliament walked through the doors of Christiansborg in 1918 (Verdens Bedste Nyheder, 2023). In 2022, the first female member of parliament was elected in the small state of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu (IPU, 2023). This highlights that there are vast differences between regions, but the Inter-Parliamentary Union still believes that the trend of female representation in politics is positive and on an upwards slope.
As the Nordic Director for UN Women, Caroline Rusten, said to Danish publication The World’s Best News (Verdens Bedste Nyheder) in 2023, “The people, who hold seats in parliaments and participate in making decisions has to be representative – and half of the world’s population are women, so they should also represent half of the decision-makers.” At present, only 6 countries have parliaments where the seats are evenly split between women and men. These are Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda, United Arabian Emirates, and New Zealand.
One example of a country that has made significant progress in electing female parliament members is Rwanda. In 2003, the country passed a law requiring that at least 30% of parliamentary seats be reserved for women, leading to a significant increase in female representation in government. Today, Rwanda has the highest percentage of female parliament members in the world, with women holding 61.3% of seats in the lower house of parliament.
This shows that quotas might hold some value in electing more women to parliaments. The argument for quotas is that when women as a rule have to occupy the highest positions in the land equally to men, it becomes obvious that women should also hold an equal share to men in other important positions such as boards of companies and universities. The assumption is that the need for quotas will simply disappear over time as gender equality becomes a natural fact.
Center for Girls attempts to influence this positive trend by fostering the mentality among women in the community that they can hold political office and be allowed to influence decision-making. This is done by having community elections where women run for positions in their local communities and hold positions that formerly were held by men. Such positions as Community Leader, Community Leader for Child Protection, and Community Leader for Women’s Issues are offices that both fight the discrimination against women in power and provide decision-makers that relate more to the issues they oversee. By starting small, we ensure that these women or their children are familiarized with having women in power and that women can run and hold political offices.
There Is Still a Lot of Work to Do
However, there is still much work to be done to ensure gender parity in politics around the world. Women continue to face significant barriers to entry into politics, including discrimination, harassment, and lack of access to resources and support. In addition, women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities face additional challenges that make it even harder to break into politics.
To address these challenges, it is important to create policies and programs that support and encourage women to run for office. This includes providing mentorship and training programs, as well as creating networks and support systems for women in politics. It also means addressing systemic barriers, such as sexism and racism, that prevent women from reaching their full potential in politics.
In conclusion, the election of more female parliament members is an important step forward for gender equality and women’s empowerment in politics. By bringing diversity and new perspectives to decision-making processes, women in politics can help create more inclusive policies that benefit all members of society. However, there is still much work to be done to address the barriers that prevent women from entering politics and reaching their full potential. By working together to create supportive policies and programs, we can help ensure that women have an equal voice in shaping the future of our societies.
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