The Marshall Islands Parliament, known as the Nitijela, has 33 Senators. Marshall Islands has a mixed electoral system. There are 19 single-member constituencies, elected using the first-past-the-post system, and 5 multi-member constituencies which use Block Voting. Elections are held every four years. Since self-government, the Marshall Islands has had four presidents (the first of whom dominated politics for thirty years). Two main parties have emerged and competed in recent elections, namely the Ailin Kein Ad Party and the United Democratic Party.
Marshall Islands has only had a handful of women Senators since Independence, usually no more than one in each Parliament. Interestingly however, after the 2007 elections, the one woman elected, Senator Amenta Mathew, was made Minister for Health, and following the 2011 elections, the one woman elected, Senator Hilda Heini, was made Minister for Education. Although women's political participation nationally remains limited, women's representation at local government level has been increasing.