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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
25.1
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
Voices
Duarte Pacheco

IPU President: “The human rights of parliamentarians should be the core business of the IPU."

Mr Duarte Pacheco, a Portuguese Member of Parliament since 1991, was elected to the IPU Presidency in an historic virtual vote in November, winning 56 per cent of the votes in the first round. In his first video interview for
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News in brief
Zoom

The shadow pandemic: Violence against Women in Politics

On 25 November, the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the IPU and the Kofi Annan Foundation organized a webinar with key actors to evaluate successful policy responses to violence against women in politics (VAWP). Eliminating Violence against
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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
Screenshot

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
screenshot

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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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
Infographics
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

Parliamentary meeting on the occasion of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

Mar 2021
Virtual event
In partnership with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and UN Women
Feb 2021
Virtual event
15:00-16:30 CET Organized with the Kofi Annan Foundation
Nov 25 2020
Gender equality