1 in 5 Government Ministers Is a Woman, an All-Time High

The 2018 U.S. elections were a big win for diverse women. Now, Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women data released at the 2019 Commission on the Status of Women show gains in representation occurred not just in the United States, but around the world. Thatís great news!

In the United States, the number of women in Congress grew 15 percent in 2019, from 110 to 127, NPR reports. There are now more women of color in the U.S. House of Representatives than ever before. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, and Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, became the first Native American women elected to Congress. And Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, are the first Muslim congresswomen.

The successes werenít just federal either. Maine, South Dakota and Iowa elected their first female governors, and 56 women won other statewide elected executive offices across the United States. The number of women in state legislatures has risen to more than 28 percent, nearly 3 percentage points higher than 2018, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Things are looking up around the world, as well. Women now make up 20.7 percent of government ministers globally, a 2.4 percentage point increase since 2017, according to the IPU/UN Women report. Womenís share in national parliaments also increased. Additionally, as of January 2019, nearly 20 percent of parliamentary speakers around the world are women.

These gains are encouraging. But given that women make up roughly 49.5 percent of the global population, they are a far cry from proportional representation.

Because progress is slow ó typically less than a percentage point of improvement per year for parliamentary representation ó itís easy to question whether women will ever be equally represented in world governments. The good news is some countries are coming much closer to, or even fully achieving, equal representation among elected government officials.

In nine countries, more than half of government ministers are women, the IPU/UN Women report says. An additional 33 countries have cleared the 30 percent mark. Three countries ó Rwanda, Cuba and Bolivia ó have exceeded 50 percent representation by women in their lower houses. Antigua and Barbuda has more than 50 percent women in its upper house.

What do most of these countries have in common? Quota systems.

If done correctly, quotas are a fast track toward equal representation, according to the IPU. In fact, the organization found countries that imposed quotas requiring gender parity had reached on average 47.1 percent representation in their upper houses versus 16.2 percent in countries with no quotas. The lower houses lagged behind but still rose to 29.3 percent in countries with quotas, much higher than the global average of 18.6 percent for countries with no quotas.

In the absence of quotas, there are still lots of actions individuals can take to help ensure the U.S. government continues to move toward gender parity.

Campaigning for or financially supporting women running for office is a powerful act. Urge your current representatives to support legislation that encourages gender parity in Congress. And, of course, if youíre a woman, the most impactful thing you can do is run for office yourself.

Image Credit: lucky-photographer/Getty Images

36 comments

Patricia A
Past Member 18 days ago

Thanks

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Ellie L
Ellie L24 days ago

Thank you

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Leo C
Leo Custerabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Richard B
Richard Babout a month ago

thank you for sharing

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Past Member
Past Member about a month ago

I'm glad there is at least progress though. I wouldn't like to be ungrateful and say it isn't enough to the many women who had to work hard for the position. I'm sure these brave women need some kind of encouragement. I remember how Positive News -- a website that only features news that talk about what's good in society -- had interviews done for these women. They need all the help and affirmation they can get.

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Coo R
Coo Rabout a month ago

While it is the highest, it isn't that high at all.

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a month ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a month ago

Thanks.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohnabout a month ago

Many thanks to you !

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Shirley S
Shirley Sabout a month ago

More needed.

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