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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. With a global average of 24.5 per cent women, most parliaments remain male-dominated, and women MPs are often under-represented on decision-making bodies.

The IPU is one of the leading organizations for the empowerment of women, recognizing the link between strong democracies and gender equality in parliaments.

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, including comparative analyses between countries and annual studies that look at historical trends over decades. 

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 and the 2018 report on European parliaments.)

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

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
IPU President and Secretary General

130 years after the foundation of the IPU, the struggle for democracy continues

An end-of-year message from IPU leadership. We should never take democracy for granted. Many of our parents and grandparents fought for it in the Second World War and in battles for independence from colonial rule. In the 1990s we celebrated
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Press releases
Board for Jo Cox

IPU publishes new guidelines to eliminate sexism and harassment in parliament

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the IPU has published a comprehensive set of guidelines to combat sexual harassment and violence against women in parliament . The guidelines offer advice and practical
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Equality for all

10 Ways to Improve Gender Equality at the UN

Gender equality is vital to realizing human rights for all; without it we have no hope of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Yet no country has achieved full gender equality. When it comes to women’s participation in parliament globally,
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News in brief
Martin Chungong at MeToo conference in Iceland

IPU invited to present at first major international #MeToo conference

Three years after the start of the #MeToo movement, Iceland recently hosted the first major international conference on the impact of gender-based violence, harassment and discrimination with the objective of “relegating sexual harassment to history”. Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, presented the IPU’s landmark work on sexism and violence against women in parliaments.
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Press releases
US Capitol

Parliamentarians at risk around the world - Events for US Congress

Parliamentarians at risk around the world/ Violence against women politicians - US Congress Events on Thursday 19 September The IPU will be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday 19 September for two events open to Members of the US Congress, congressional
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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
These guidelines offer advice and practical information for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff on how to transform parliaments into gender-sensitive environments free from sexism and abuse.
This IPU/UN Women map is a unique visual tool that captures women’s participation in executive government and in parliament.
This annual report analyses progress and setbacks of gender equality in parliaments based on recent elections.
Gender equality
Related events

Annual parliamentary meeting at the 64th Commission on the Status of Women

New York,
United States

Mar 2020


Room XXVII, Palais des Nations, 15:00-16:30 Organized by the IPU, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), UN Women, the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Missions of Canada
Jul 10 2019


Room XVII, Palais des Nations, 10:00-11:30 Organized by the IPU, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) The seminar titled “The CEDAW convention: 40 years of promoting
Jul 08 2019
Gender equality