New map shows progress for women in politics, but glass ceiling remains firm
13th March, 2014
A global map of women in politics launched Tuesday by UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) showed that while progress on women’s political participation continues to be largely positive across the world, glass ceilings remain firmly in place for women at the highest levels.
“The Women in Politics Map 2014,” which presents the latest data on women in executive government and in parliament, reveals similar regional trends in women’s representation in both spheres, with the Americas, Europe and Africa outperforming the Arab, Asia and Pacific regions.
“Every election is a critical opportunity to make progress towards the increased participation of women as voters and as candidates,” said John Hendra, deputy executive director of UN Women, at a press conference here in the UN headquarters in New York,while launching the Map and IPU’s Women in Parliament 2013 study.
“This map shows the value of having data, of being able to measure and track women’s political participation over time. It’s a great tool for benchmarking progress and for ensuring accountability,” he said.
The Map shows that in executive government, the percentage of women in ministerial posts has now reached 17.2 percent, up from 16.1 percent in 2008.
By Jan. 1 this year, there were 36 countries with 30 percent or more women ministers, a jump from 26 in 2012. With 14 women in such posts, Nicaragua heads the global table of women in executive government, followed by Sweden, Finland, France, Cape Verde and Norway.
The data on women in politics also sheds light on the progress made for women in parliament.
The annual IPU study shows that the percentage of women MPs is now at a record high of21.8 percent globally with numbers growing every year. There are also 46 countries with more than 30 percent of women MPs in at least one chamber, up from 42 in January 2013.The trend, if continues, would bode well for women’s political participation in the future.
“More women are now in politics and influencing the political agenda at higher levels. That is clear. But not at the very highest level,” said Anders B. Johnsson, IPU Secretary General, at the press conference.
IPU is an international organization that brings together the representatives of parliaments of states. The IPU is the focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and cooperation among peoples with a view to strengthening representative institutions.
Another positive trend highlighted in the IPU-UN Women Map is that while the traditionally “soft” portfolios such as social affairs, education or women’s affairs continue to be most common among women ministers, more women are now holding some of the so-called “hard” ministerial portfolios such as defense, foreign affairs and the environment.
In sharp contrast to these more positive figures and trends is the slight decline or stagnation of figures on women Heads of State/Heads of Government and women Speakers of Parliament.
Since 2012, the number of women Heads of State or Heads of Government has decreased slightly from 19 to 18.
The Americas is the region with the largest number of women at the highest political level with six Heads of State or Heads of Government. The Pacific is the only region without women in these positions.
Meanwhile, the percentage of women Speakers of Parliament has barely risen from 14.2percent in 2012 to 14.8 percent in 2013. In comparison, the percentage of women Deputy Speakers of Parliament is significantly higher at 26.5 percent, suggesting that this is often the glass ceiling for women MPs.
“Some leaders have broken the glass ceiling for women through their own personal vision and political will. They have shown the critical importance of political leadership in effecting change. We now need more leaders to show the same political courage,” said the IPU secretary-general.
Read the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2013.pdf (World Economic Forum)