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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 just over 24 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
24.3
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
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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Voices
Susan Kihika

VIDEO: Susan Kihika, MP from Kenya, on gender equality

Susan Kihika, Kenyan MP and President of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians, speaks about the barriers preventing women from running for office. She was speaking at the 140th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, held in Doha, 6-10 April 2019.
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Press releases
Women in Politics 2019 map

One in five ministers is a woman according to new IPU/UN Women Map

Women’s representation in political decision-making continues to rise slowly, with slight improvements since 2017, according to the data presented in the 2019 edition of the biennial IPU-UN Women map of Women in Politics . The map, which presents global rankings for women in the executive and parliamentary government branches as of 1 January 2019, shows the proportion of women ministers is at an all-time high at 20.7 per cent (812 out of 3922), 2.4 percentage points higher compared to 2017. It also shows that the types of portfolios women ministers hold are diversifying.
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Press releases
Women in parliament

New IPU report shows well-designed quotas lead to significantly more women MPs

According to the IPU’s yearly analysis , the share of women in national parliaments increased by nearly one percentage point last year, from 23.4 per cent in 2017 to 24.3 per cent in 2018. This 0.9 percentage point increase confirms the continuing rise of women in parliament, at a slightly faster rate of change compared to previous years. Countries with well-designed gender quotas elected significantly more women to parliament than those without, respectively, 7 points more in single or lower chambers, and 17 points more in upper chambers.
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News in brief

UK Parliament makes ‘steady progress’ on gender equality

The UK Gender Sensitive Parliament Audit , published today, finds that steady progress has been made in increasing the representation of women in both Houses of Parliament, but there are still too many barriers to women standing as MPs or putting themselves forward to the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
Infographics
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.
Based on interviews with female MPs and parliamentary staff, this report documents a range of sexist behaviour in European parliaments.
Gender equality
Related events
Meeting
Geneva, Switzerland
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
Seminar
Geneva, Switzerland
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
Meeting
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United States
Investing in gender equality: Parliaments ensuring social protection, public services and infrastructure deliver for women and girls The Parliamentary Meeting at the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, hosted by the IPU and UN Women, will
Mar 13 2019
Gender equality