NEW YORK: The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) – a global organization of national parliaments – confirmed in its report that for the first time ever, there are women lawmakers in every single country on Earth.
In its latest annual report, the union, which is dedicated to promoting peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue, said that women’s participation has never been as diverse as it is in many countries today. The findings are based on data from the 47 countries that held elections last year.
These polls saw women take an average of 25.8 per cent of the seats available, representing a 2.3 percentage point increase, since elections were last held. Despite this data, the union noted that it was nonetheless the smallest increase in women’s participation in six years.
The 0.4 per cent rise means that the global share of women in parliamentary office, stood at 26.5 per cent, as the New Year dawned. The other bad news is that at this rate, it will take another 80 years to reach gender parity in parliament, said Martin Chungong, IPU secretary general.
Currently, “one of the foremost obstacles is the climate of sexism, harassment, and violence against women that we are witnessing across the world,” he said. “It is a phenomenon that is pervasive across the world and it is not endemic to any particular region. And we can estimate that this is having a toll on the participation of women in political life.”
‘Martin Chungong points to other IPU data, showing pervasive and increasing trend of harassment, sexism and violence against women’
The IPU chief referred to the resignations of New Zealand and Scotland premiers Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon, saying that it was widely held that they had stepped down after being harassed. He also pointed to other IPU data, showing pervasive and increasing trend of harassment, sexism and violence against women, that deters them from participating in the political processes in their countries.
IPU Bureau of Women President Lesia Vasylenko said that every woman elected, brings parliaments one step closer to becoming more inclusive and representative and it’s great to see much more diversity. But overall, she said that progress was far too slow with half the world’s population still vastly under-represented. “There is an urgent need to change this, to strengthen democracy everywhere.”
IPU President Duarte Pacheco called on male colleagues in every parliament worldwide, to work with their female counterparts to move forward and accelerate the pace of change. There were encouraging signs that progress is at least happening, the report said, citing Brazil, which saw a record 4,829 women who identify as Black, running for election, out of nearly 27,000 standing overall.
In the USA, a record 263 women of color stood in the Congressional Midterms. And LGBTQI+ representation in Colombia, tripled, from two to six members of the Congress. In France, 32 candidates from a minority background were elected to the new National Assembly, an all-time high of 5.8 per cent of the total, it was pointed out.