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María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

‘Pushback’

The number of women political leaders is falling, and ‘brutal’ abuse may be to blame

March 13, 2019

Women leaders at the U.N. are concerned that the inroads women have made in politics in recent years are now at risk of slipping away.

Speaking to delegates at the Commission on the Status of Women on Tuesday, U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa said that the status of women in politics had suffered “serious regression in recent years.”

The percentage of women elected as heads of state dropped from 7.2 percent to 6.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to data released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union last week. There are now just 10 elected women heads of state out of 153 countries. The percentage of women heads of government fell during the same period, from 5.7 to 5.2 percent.

“We also have pushback right now, which contributes to the slowing down of women wanting to contest for office, because it is brutal,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women, noting that women were facing an uphill battle trying to compete in institutions “made for men and by men.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka cited political violence, verbal abuse, and abuse on social media as factors preventing female candidates from gaining a foothold in many countries.

“We just have to be stronger in pushing back against the pushback ourselves,” she said.

Read the full story at TIME magazine.

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