Is There Still Too Little Participation From Women in Politics?

A new UN Women report reveals that there still too little participation from women in politics.

In the newly-released The Women in Politics 2012 report, produced by UN Women in conjunction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), it says the percentage of women parliamentarians stands at 19.5 per cent – only a 0.5 per cent increase from last year – which means that less than one in five parliamentarians across the world are women.

The report maps the progress of women’s political participation around the world in the past year.

To increase the number of women’s participation in politics, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet stressed that the role of quotas to accelerate women’s political participation.

From January 26, 2009 to January 3, 2011, seventeen women served concurrently in the Senate for the first time.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

More hands-on measures are also needed to achieve significant progress on this issue, according to Ms. Bachelet

“Today I call for stronger commitment by leaders to increase women’s participation in politics.” – Michelle Bachelet

She encourages countries to use quotas to expand women’s participation in parliament.

She recommends that it is also good to open public debate about the right of women to take part in government and to hold public office.

Democracy grows stronger with the full and equal participation of women, she added.

The report reveals quotas have a positive effect on increasing women’s involvement in politics.

The reports say out of the 59 countries that held elections last year, 17 of them had legislated quotas. In those countries, women gained 27 per cent of parliamentary seats compared to 16 per cent in countries without quotas.

Ms. Bachelet pledges that UN Women will support women’s movements, work with parliaments to amend laws to include gender equality perspectives, and support reforms of electoral laws to facilitate the incorporation of women in elections as voters and candidates.

The UN Women will also advise on the adoption of laws that include the quota system.

In addition, Abdelwahad Radi, President of the IPU, highlighted that it’s essential for all countries to make every effort possible and necessary and to take every opportunity provided to guarantee significant participation of women in politics.

Mr. Radi cites that recent changes in the Arab world, the region with the lowest percentage of parliamentary participation – only 10.7 per cent, offer an opportunity for women to get more involved in politics.

“Countries in transition can very effectively take advantage of reforms to guarantee strong participation of women in politics.” -Mr. Radi

On September 2011, women leaders declared that boosting women’s political participation and decision-making around the world is fundamental for democracy and essential for achieving sustainable development, women leaders at a high-level event at the United Nations.

UN Women estimates that women make up less than 10 per cent of world leaders. Globally less than one in five members of parliament is a woman. In addition, the 30 per cent critical mass mark for women’s representation in parliament has been reached or exceeded in only 28 countries.

The UN Women report also asserts women’s participation is crucial in the pro-democracy protest movements that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East last year.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.