While the female membership of legislatures around the world has doubled in the last 20 years, quotas still fall well short of the target figure of 30 percent set at the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference. The Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, which opened Monday at the United Nations, heard that among 190 countries, only 44 legislatures have met the goal, including Rwanda (nearly 64 percent of members of its lower house of Parliament are women) and Bolivia (53 percent). In a draft declaration, the assembled speakers of parliament agreed to strive for another five years to reach the 30-percent target. Notably, the numbers of women in parliament does not appear to be reflected in the status of women in those countries. For example, in Afghanistan, where the measures of women’s health, education and well-being are among the worst globally, 27 percent of lower-house lawmakers are female – a higher figure than in Australia, where women are, by most standards, better off.
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