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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)

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
26.4
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
News in brief
Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone opens door for more women in parliament

A new law in Sierra Leone will ensure that at least 30% of parliamentarians are women and impose similar quotas in other institutions, including government, local councils, the diplomatic corps and the civil service. The Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
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Statements
Senegal parliament

IPU statement on violence in the Senegal Parliament

The IPU condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence that took place in the Senegal National Assembly this week, committed by two parliamentarians, Mr. Yewi Askanwi and Mr. Moustapha Sy, against a pregnant parliamentarian, Ms. Gniby Amy Ndiaye. Any
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News in brief
rally paris

Violence against women parliamentarians: Causes, effects, solutions

Women account for just over 26% of parliamentarians worldwide according to the IPU’s latest figures. Despite progress made in recent years, significant obstacles continue to block their path to parity with their male counterparts. One of the biggest obstacles is
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Voices
Rwanda

Five days of an IPU Assembly in 5 minutes: Watch the highlights of #IPU145

The 145th IPU Assembly took place in Kigali, Rwanda from 11-15 October in partnership with the Parliament of Rwanda. Some 1000 delegates, of whom close to 600 were MPs, attended, representing 120 countries. What were the takeaways? What were the
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Voices
Rwanda parliament

How did Rwanda become no.1 for gender equality?

n 2008, the Rwanda Chamber of Deputies was the first elected national parliament where women were the majority. The proportion of MPs who are women is at 61.25% today, way above the current global average of 26.4%. Rwanda has been
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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
The world walked into 2021 with the shadow of COVID-19 looming large over its head. As well as posing a major health risk, the pandemic had also caused economic and social upheaval. Political life had been affected too, from the
The 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament (13SWSP) was held on 6 September 2021 in Vienna (Austria) on the theme Women at the centre: From confronting the pandemic to preserving achievements in gender-responsive recovery. Over 26 of the world’s
The present regional study, the second in the series, focuses on parliaments in Africa and was carried out in partnership with the African Parliamentary Union (APU). It is based on confidential interviews conducted with 224 women parliamentarians and members of
Gender equality
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Gender equality