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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
Call to Action

Call to Action- On young women’s political participation and leadership

Following a virtual event on 18 November 2020, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth published today a call to action on young women’s participation in politics. The call to action identifies three
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Press releases
Women in Politics 2021

Women in politics: new data shows growth but also setbacks

Despite increases in the number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist, according to the 2021 edition of the IPU-UN Women Map of Women in Politics. The IPU-UN Women Map presents new data for
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Statement by IPU President, Duarte Pacheco, on International Women's Day 2021

The IPU has been promoting gender equality for decades ever since the first woman parliamentarian took the floor at an IPU parliamentary event in 1922. On 8 March, 2021, International Women's Day, listen to IPU President, Mr. Duarte Pacheco, speak
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Mali 2020

Joint Call by IPU and CEDAW Committee on International Women's Day 2021

View the monthly ranking of women in national parliaments Our shared commitments Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Member States have recognized the equal right of women and men to participate in public
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Press releases
New Zealand elections 2020

Proportion of women MPs inches up but gender parity still far off

View the monthly ranking of women in national parliaments Following elections in 2020, the global proportion of women in parliament reached a record 25.5 per cent, representing an increase of 0.6 points compared with 2019, according to the IPU’s latest
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Gender equality
Latest publications on gender equality
The IPU-UN Women in Politics 2021 map shows all-time highs for women heads of state, women heads of government, women Speakers of parliament, and women MPs and ministers.
The IPU's annual analysis of women in parliament, based on the previous year's elections.
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.
Gender equality
Related events
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 2021
Virtual event
15:00-16:30 CET Organized with the Kofi Annan Foundation
Nov 25 2020
Virtual event
14:00-17:00 (CET) Organized with the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth
Nov 18 2020
Gender equality