In its latest annual report, the global body dedicated to promoting peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue also said that women’s participation never been so diverse as it is today in many countries.
The findings are based on data from the 47 countries who held elections last year.
These polls showed that women took an average of 25.8 percent of available seats 2.3 percentage point increasesince the last election.
Despite these positive data, IPU noted that it is nevertheless the smallest increase in female participation in six years. The 0.4 percent increase means that the global share of women in parliamentary positions stood at 26.5 percent at the start of the new year.
The other bad news is that at this rate it will take another 80 years to achieve gender equality in parliament, said Martin Chungong, secretary general of the IPU:
“Currently, one of the main obstacles is the climate of sexism, harassment and violence against women which we are witnessing around the world,” he said.
“It is a phenomenon that is widespread all over the world and it is not endemic to any particular region. And we can estimate that this takes its toll on women’s participation in political life.”
Women prime ministers retire early
The IPU chief referred to the resignations of New Zealand and Scottish Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeonsaying they were widely believed to have resigned after being harassed.
Mr Chungong also pointed to other IPU data that is ubiquitous and growing trend of harassment, sexism and violence against womenwhich prevents them from participating in the political processes in their country.
Lesia Vasylenko, chairwoman of the IPU’s Bureau of Women MPs, said every woman elected “brings parliaments one step closer to becoming more inclusive and representative and it’s great to see a lot more diversity”.
But overall, she added: “progress is much too slow while half of the world’s population is still massively underrepresented. This urgently needs to change 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 at least progress is being made. Brazil saw one record 4,829 women who identify as blackrunning for election, out of nearly 27,000 in all.
In the US, a record 263 women of color was in the Congressional Midterms. And LGBTQI+ representation in Colombia has tripled from two to six members of Congress.
In France, 32 candidates from minority backgrounds were elected to the new National Assembly, a record high of 5.8 percent of the total.
Lead the way
Six countries worldwide now have gender equalitythanks to New Zealand joining the club last year, which also includes Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – the top countries in the IPU ranking for female membership.
Rwanda ranks first, with women occupying just over 60 percent of parliamentary seats in the lower house. Significantly, even there, women still occupy only 34.6 percent of the upper chamber seats.