Skip to main content

A Guinea-Bissau woman shows her inked finger after voting. © Reuters / Joe Penney

Gender equality

We work to increase women’s representation in parliament and empower women MPs.
woman inked finger / © Joseph Penney / Reuters

Many women around the world still lack basic human rights and face discrimination and gender-based violence. The world’s parliaments are no exception. Most parliaments remain male-dominated, and women MPs are often under-represented on decision-making bodies.

The IPU has been tracking and empowering women parliamentarians for decades, convinced of the link between strong democracies and gender equality.

Our work focuses on three main objectives: increasing the number of women in parliament through well-designed quotas and parliamentary caucuses; supporting women in parliament; and transforming parliaments into gender-sensitive institutions that deliver on women’s rights.

To achieve these objectives, the IPU has a wealth of data and tools:

We are the authority on the percentage of women in national parliaments through our monthly ranking of women in parliament, including comparative analyses between countries and annual studies that look at historical trends over decades. 

Every year in March we publish an analysis of women in parliament looking at progress and setbacks following the previous year's parliamentary elections.  

We have published landmark reports on sexism and gender-based violence in parliament, looking at both female MPs and female parliamentary staff. (See the 2016 report on global data, the 2018 report on European parliaments and the 2021 report on African parliaments). We have also published Guidelines for the elimination of sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliament.

Our self-assessment toolkit for gender-sensitive parliaments is an essential reference that has been used by dozens of parliaments around the world. 

We also have databases on women’s parliamentary caucuses  and specialized parliamentary committees on gender equality.

The IPU partners with International IDEA and Stockholm University in running a global database on gender electoral quotas, which provides country-specific data on existing mechanisms to ensure women’s participation in parliaments.

Practising what we preach, we have adopted groundbreaking practices ourselves to ensure gender equality in our assemblies, committees and staff.

Gender-equal parliaments
Global percentage of women MPs
Explore gender equality
While more women than ever are being elected to parliaments around the world, equality is still a long way off, and current progress is far too slow.
Gender-sensitive parliaments are institutions that are founded on gender equality, where women and men have an equal right to participate without discrimination or recrimination.
Women account for half the world’s population, yet many face discrimination in work, health care and education, or suffer physical and sexual violence.
Latest news and stories on gender equality

Statement from PMNCH and IPU leadership on repeal of law banning female genital mutilation in The Gambia

Helen Clark, PMNCH Board Chair; Joy Phumaphi and Githinji Gitahi, Co-Chairs, PMNCH Advocacy and Partner Engagement Committee; Flavia Bustreo, Chair, PMNCH Governance and Ethics Committee; Martin Chungong, Secretary General, Inter-Parliamentary Union. As the world’s leading alliance committed to the health
Read more
ipu president

Statement of the IPU President in Celebration of International Women's Day 2024- (Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress)

As we celebrate International Women's Day this year, we must not only address the current and future challenges societies face globally, but also recognize the perspectives, talents and contributions of half of our population to the causes of human rights
Read more
News in brief
iran women vote

In a super election year, will women come out on top?

Earlier this year, the IPU announced that around 70 elections were slated to take place in 2024, in what has been dubbed a super election year. In total, thousands of parliamentary seats are up for grabs. As of March 2024
Read more
Jacinda Ardern

VIDEO - Women in parliament in 2023: The year in review

According to the IPU’s latest Women in Parliament 2023 report, progress on women’s representation in parliament was slow and mixed. Based on elections and appointments that took place in 2023, the global proportion of MPs who are women has inched
Read more
Press releases
poland protest

Women MPs: Some progress but prominent figures quitting

According to the IPU’s latest Women in Parliament 2023 report, the global proportion of MPs who are women has inched up to 26.9%, based on elections and appointments that took place in 2023. This represents an increase of 0.4 percentage
Read more
Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
Summary of facts and figures on the participation of women in parliament in 2023. Access the publication Read the press release
In 2023, progress on women’s representation in parliament was slow and mixed. Globally, the share of women MPs stood at 26.9% on 1 January 2024 – only 0.4 percentage points higher than it was 12 months earlier. This represented a
In 2003, the IPU and the United Nations published The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol: Handbook for Parliamentarians. That first handbook aimed to foster a better understanding among parliamentarians of
Gender equality
Related events
Virtual event
A Side-Event to the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region
Virtual event
An online regional meeting for parliamentarians from Arab States with the aim to accelerate the achievement of SDG 5 by strengthening actions on women’s economic empowerment and care policies in the region
Virtual event
IPU Webinar for parliaments of States scheduled for review by the CEDAW Committee in 2024 and a group of other parliaments supported by the IPU in the area of gender equality.
Gender equality