Underrepresented

While it’s a big year for women in politics, parliaments are still filled with men

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May, following talks on July 20, 2016 in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

With Angela Merkel and Theresa May now leading two of the West’s largest democracies, and Hillary Clinton — if the polls are any indication — on track to win the U.S. presidency, the numbers of women in the highest ranks of political power is on the rise. Women made up just 11.3 percent of politicians in parliaments worldwide in 1995, a number that has since risen to 22.1 percent, according a study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. But while the numbers of female politicians in parliament and executive government are rising, they are still vastly underrepresented, and progress is slow. “Yes it is an improvement considering that it started at a low base,” Executive Director of U.N. Women Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka said. “But if we continue at this pace, it’s going to take us too long. We need to fast-track the attainment of gender equality.”

The United States is doing a particularly bad job, lagging behind more than half of the world when it comes to the number of women in its national legislature, with even Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia  — not noted for gender equality — doing a better job.

Research has shown that gender quota play an important role in getting more female representation in these legislations — especially in emerging democracies where cultural barriers exist. Ngcuka also noted that men have an important role to play in shifting mentalities as it’s not only up to women to “move the glass ceiling”, citing the example of Canadian P.M. Justin Trudeau, who nominated a half-female cabinet in 2015.

Watch Theresa May interviewed by Tina Brown at the Women in the World London Summit:

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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