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Progress of women in world's parliaments is slowing: IPU report

Category: Gender in the world 

In 2017 there were some positive developments in women's participation in elections, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said, but progress in female representation is slowing.


The IPU, which works closely with the United Nations (UN), released its yearly review of women in parliament on Friday ahead of the International Women's Day on March 8.


The IPU report found that in global terms, the number of women in national parliaments only increased by 0.1 percentage point from 2016, bringing the total representation from 23.3 percent to 23.4 percent.




IPU secretary general Martin Chungong said at a UN media briefing here, "It worries me that progress made in women's political involvement is slowing.


"With the exception of some countries that have made a headway because of political will, this has been, overall, a disappointing year," he said.


Chungong said it was vital that women were part of decision-making institutions such as parliament, for both gender equality and democracy, as well as the legitimacy it lends to the democratic process.

A record number of women ran in elections held in 2017, and more seats were won by women than in previous years: 27.1 percent compared with 22.3 percent in 2016.

Countries who elected the highest percentages of women in 2017 were Senegal (41.8 percent) and Norway (41.4 percent).

Europe made the greatest gains in the number of women members of parliament (MPs). In France, for example, women MPs now hold 38.6 percent of seats in the National Assembly, up from 26.6 percent the year before.

Asian parliaments experienced a slight decrease in the number of women elected (down 0.7 points to 18.6 percent).

China was well above the Asian average with women making up 24.2 percent of those in the National People's Congress, up from 23.7 percent the preceding year.

In India, 11.8 percent of those in the lower parliamentary chamber were women with 11.1 percent in the upper chamber.

Japan had 10.1 percent women in the lower house and 20.7 in the upper chamber.

Women's parliamentary representation in the Americas rose by 0.3 percentage points to 28.4 percent. The trailblazers were Argentina (38.1 percent), Chile (22.6 percent) and Ecuador (38 percent).

In the United States, women accounted for 19.4 percent of those in the lower house and 21 percent in the upper chamber.



The IPU said that if women were to play a bigger role in politics, parliament should be a place where they are able to work without fear of being harassed.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, said the IPU. Women MPs have complained of being sexually harassed and have felt unable to speak out against it, said the report.



Tags: Inter-Parliamentary Union report women parliament

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