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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

Video: Women in politics in 2020

The new Women in Politics map from the IPU and UN Women shows that women continue to be underrepresented across all levels of power. Watch the interview with Gabriela Cuevas, President of the IPU and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of
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COVID-19: What does it mean for gender?

Opinion Piece by the Secretariat of the International Gender Champions (IGC) and Martin Chungong , Chair of the IGC Global Board and Secretary General of the IPU. In times of crisis, gender equality is a goal that is often temporarily
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News in brief

Video: Women, peace and security

Watch the second in our short video series for parliamentarians on UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 to celebrate Women’s History Month. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
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News in brief
Take action

Video: Five things you can do to improve gender equality in leadership

Watch the first in a series of short videos on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first video on SDG 5 "Gender Equality" looks at how you can take concrete actions to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal
Read more
Press releases

In 2020, world “cannot afford” so few women in power

Women’s representation in political decision-making continues to increase but at a sluggish pace according to new data presented in the 2020 edition of the IPU‑UN Women map of Women in Politics . The data’s publication coincides with the 25-year review
Read more
Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
The IPU-UN Women map, which presents global rankings for women in executive and government positions as of 1 January 2020, shows all-time highs for women heads of state and heads of government, women Speakers of parliament and women MPs and
This year’s report looks back at 25 years of women in parliament on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference and its groundbreaking action plan for 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. Learn more about the IPU's work on gender equality.
Gender equality
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Gender equality