Jan 31, 2014
In late 2013, women accounted for slightly more than 21 percent of the representatives in the lower or popular chambers of national legislatures worldwide, according to the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Filling one in five seats of national legislative bodies represents progress for women, but it is hardly rapid progress: 15 years ago, slightly more than 13 percent of the seats were held by women.
Low levels of female participation in parliaments undoubtedly reflect similarly low levels of participation in other political institutions as well as in social, educational, and economic spheres generally. Data on gender gaps in these areas are less uniform and authoritative. The number of women in top national executive offices—including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf—may reflect changeable political scenes in the world’s 193 U.N. member states more than actual trends in women’s influence in governance.