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17%: The share of women in single or lower houses of parliament worldwide in 2006, up from 12% in 1990

Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Target: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

Women’s political participation has increased significantly since 1990. One in five parliamentarians elected in 2005 are women, bringing the percentage of parliamentary seats held by women in 2006 worldwide to almost 17. In 20 countries, more than 30 per cent of parliamentarians are women. Striking disparities remain, however. While Rwanda and the Nordic countries have come close to parity, women’s national political representation is very low in Oceania, Northern Africa and Western Asia. The most encouraging signs come from Latin America and the Caribbean, where women now hold 20 per cent of parliamentary seats.

Several factors are at work. Public debate and advocacy have shifted the political landscape. Quotas and other measures have broken barriers and triggered positive change. More than 95 countries have now implemented either mandatory or voluntary measures to increase women’s political participation. New constitutions in countries emerging from conflict have been especially effective in this regard: After the 2005 elections in Afghanistan and in Iraq, for example, women now represent 27 and 25 per cent of parliamentary seats, respectively.

Source: UN DESA, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006, New York, June 2006.


 

 

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