Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%)

Definition: Women in parliaments are the percentage of parliamentary seats in a single or lower chamber held by women.

Description: The map below shows how Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Rwanda, with a value of 63.80. The country with the lowest value in the world is Yemen, with a value of 0.00.

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (www.ipu.org).

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Despite much progress in recent decades, gender inequalities remain pervasive in many dimensions of life - worldwide. But while disparities exist throughout the world, they are most prevalent in developing countries. Gender inequalities in the allocation of such resources as education, health care, nutrition, and political voice matter because of the strong association with well-being, productivity, and economic growth. These patterns of inequality begin at an early age, with boys routinely receiving a larger share of education and health spending than do girls, for example. Women are vastly underrepresented in decision-making positions in government, although there is some evidence of recent improvement. Gender parity in parliamentary representation is still far from being realized. Without representation at this level, it is difficult for women to influence policy. A strong and vibrant democracy is possible only when parliament is fully inclusive of the population it represents. Parliaments cannot consider themselves inclusive, however, until they can boast the full participation of women. This is not just about women's right to equality and their contribution to the conduct of public affairs, but also about using women's resources and potential to determine political and development priorities that benefit societies and the global community.

Limitations and Exceptions: The number of countries covered varies with suspensions or dissolutions of parliaments. There can be difficulties in obtaining information on by-election results and replacements due to death or resignation. These changes are ad hoc events which are more difficult to keep track of. By-elections, for instance, are often not announced internationally as general elections are. Parliaments vary considerably in their internal workings and procedures, however, generally legislate, oversee government and represent the electorate. In terms of measuring women's contribution to political decision making, this indicator may not be sufficient because some women may face obstacles in fully and efficiently carrying out their parliamentary mandate. The data is compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the basis of information provided by National Parliaments. The percentages do not take into account the case of parliaments for which no data was available at that date. Information is available in all countries where a national legislature exists and therefore does not include parliaments that have been dissolved or suspended for an indefinite period.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: The proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments is the number of seats held by women members in single or lower chambers of national parliaments, expressed as a percentage of all occupied seats; it is derived by dividing the total number of seats occupied by women by the total number of seats in parliament. National parliaments can be bicameral or unicameral. This indicator covers the single chamber in unicameral parliaments and the lower chamber in bicameral parliaments. It does not cover the upper chamber of bicameral parliaments. Seats are usually won by members in general parliamentary elections. Seats may also be filled by nomination, appointment, indirect election, rotation of members and by-election. Seats refer to the number of parliamentary mandates, or the number of members of parliament.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual

General Comments: General cut off date is end-December. Relevance to gender indicator: Women are vastly underrepresented in decision making positions in government, although there is some evidence of recent improvement. Gender parity in parliamentary representation is still far from being realized. Without representation at this level, it is difficult for women to influence policy.