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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 25 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
News in brief
young girl

Sierra Leone’s Caucus on Female Genital Mutilation holds inaugural meeting

On 18 November 2020, thirty-four members of Sierra Leone’s parliament held a day-long meeting on Engaging Members of Parliament on Female Genital Mutilation: An innovative approach to attaining SDG 5. These select members represent the newly formed first-ever parliamentary Caucus
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News in brief

Video: Violence Against Women: What can parliaments do to protect women?

Watch the fourth in a series of short videos on the Sustainable Development Goals 5 - gender equality. This video shares some shocking facts about violence against women and outlines steps that parliaments can take against this scourge. This is
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News in brief

Video: Gender equality laws around the world - what can parliaments do?

Watch the third in a series of short videos on the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. This video on legislation for gender equality looks at how countries can achieve full gender equality, something that none of them have
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News in brief

Making legislation more gender-sensitive

As part of their research to produce a handbook to address the issue of legislation that discriminates against women, the IPU and UN Women recently held virtual consultations with parliamentarians from around the world. Laws that discriminate against women affect
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News in brief
Women in markets

Video: Parliaments in a time of pandemic

Watch this 2-minute video to discover how parliaments and parliamentarians have responded to the pandemic. See also Parliaments in a time of pandemic.
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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
The IPU-UN Women in Politics 2020 map shows all-time highs for women heads of state, women heads of government, women Speakers of parliament, and women MPs and ministers.
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
Related events
Virtual event
Postponed until further notice In partnership with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and UN Women
Dec 2020
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15:00-16:30 CET Organized with the Kofi Annan Foundation
Nov 25 2020
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14:00-17:00 (CET) Organized with the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth
Nov 18 2020
Gender equality