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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

Shining a light on sexism against women in African parliaments through art

In light of the significance of the recent report, Sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliaments in Africa, the IPU commissioned a talented artist to help visually portray the extent of this scourge in legislatures across the continent. Annick
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Press releases

Widespread sexism and violence against women in African parliaments according to new IPU report

A new study by the IPU and the African Parliamentary Union (APU) shows that sexism, harassment and violence against women are ubiquitous in parliaments across Africa. This is the second in a series of IPU regional studies, following a 2018
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Press releases

Build back equal: New handbook on gender-responsive legislation

Lawmakers around the world have a new resource to help them address gender inequality with the publication of the new IPU and UN Women Handbook on gender-responsive law making. The handbook is timely as countries put in place COVID-19 recovery
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News in brief

The IPU reaffirms its commitments to generation equality

What would a truly equal generation look like? Convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of France and Mexico, this is the question panellists debated at last week’s Generation Equality Forum in Paris.
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News in brief
© UN Women/ Ryan Brown

IPU welcomes Canadian funding to advance gender equality in parliament

The IPU will receive an additional two million Canadian dollars in funding to support its gender equality work in parliament. The three-year project, Gender Equality in Politics, is designed to support the IPU’s work in increasing women’s political empowerment. The funding will also help strengthen the capacity of parliaments to support gender equality at a national level.
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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
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
Equality in law is crucial to gender equality, as women and girls look to the laws of their State to protect, fulfil and enforce their rights. Laws that discriminate and deny them equal rights with men and boys betray their
Gender equality
Related events


The 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament, convened by the IPU, in close cooperation with the UN and the Austrian Parliament, will take place in Vienna. The Summit will precede the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.
Sep 06 2021
Virtual event
The IPU, in collaboration with UN Women, is hosting Inter-parliamentary Dialogue on Gender-responsive recovery post-COVID-19, in a series of three online meetings taking place once a week between 7 and 21 April 2021.
Apr 07 2021
Virtual event
15:00-16:30 CET Organized with the Kofi Annan Foundation
Nov 25 2020
Gender equality