How Far Are We From Achieving Women’s Political Empowerment?

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The ‘Women in Politics 2017 Map’ was released in New York in a joint Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)-UN Women press conference in the context of the ongoing session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

‘Women in Politics 2017 Map’, is a visual representation of women’s political empowerment. It depicts global rankings for women in the executive and parliamentary branches of government as of January 1, 2017.

According to the data presented, the number of women in executive government and in parliaments worldwide has stagnated, with only marginal improvements since 2015

Also, the number of women heads of state or heads of government fell from 19 to 17 since 2015, and progress in the number of women in the parliaments continues to be slow.

In a global ranking of countries as per the percentage of women appointed in ministerial positions, India fared moderately. It ranked 88th out of 186 countries in the list with 18.5 per cent of women appointed in ministerial positions as of January 1, 2017. Countries like Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique and South Sudan fared better than India in the ranking.

However, in the ranking of nations according to number of women elected or appointed to parliaments, as on January 1, 2017 India ranked 148 out of the 193 nations. At present, India has only 11.48 per cent women in the Lok Sabha and 11 per cent in the Rajya Sabha. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Iraq were ranked higher than India. In Asia, women held 11 per cent of ministerial posts (from 10.6 per cent in 2015). Indonesia became the country with the highest participation of women in government (25.7 per cent) in the region, while Vietnam and Nepal experienced steep declines. In Europe, the total percentage stood at 22.5 per cent. Surprisingly, the Nordic countries which have traditionally led the global stage in politics depicted a fall in their number of female ministers.

The Union, established in 1889, is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among people and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. The IPU supports the efforts of and works in close cooperation with the UN on relevant objectives. Its data shows that the global average of women in national parliaments increased just slightly from 22.6 per cent in 2015 to 23.3 per cent in 2016. The number of female Speakers of the House, however, is up to the highest so far, with 53 out of 273 posts.

The UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told reporters at the launch that “These data powerfully tell the story of the persistent missing voice of women”. She also identified some of the challenges faced by women who run for office. “Political parties are male dominated. When there isn’t a specific measure in place, women fall off the ground. Men tend to choose those who are made in their own image,” she said. Women’s participation in parliaments rose to 25 per cent from 22.4 per cent in 2015, even as the heads of state of Brazil and Argentina left office. Number of women ministers in Africa declined after years of steady growth. About 19.7 per cent of the region’s ministerial posts are held by women.

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