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Monday, December 4, 2023

Parliaments: women in all the world's institutions

The latest report from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on the presence of women in parliaments in 2022, shows that their representation and diversity have never been greater in many countries. For the first time, there is not a single parliament in the world without a single woman member. On January 1, 2023, the proportion of women in national parliaments reached 26.5%. This significant increase (+0.4%), which has been observed for over a decade, nevertheless represents the lowest growth rate for six years. Rwanda, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates top the world ranking of parliaments according to the percentage of women in their midst.

Based on data from the 47 countries that held elections in 2022, women won an average of 25.8% of seats per election or nomination. This corresponds to an increase of 2.3% on previous elections held in these chambers.

Positive advances

Slovenia, Malta, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia and Australia are the countries in which women's representation in elected chambers of parliament made the greatest progress in 2022. In Brazil, a record 4,829 women who consider themselves black ran in the general election (out of 26,778 candidates). In the United States of America, a record number of women of color (263) ran in the mid-term elections. The number of people representing the LGBTQI+ community in Colombia tripled, from two to six members of Congress. Finally, in France, 32 minority candidates were elected to the new National Assembly, representing an unprecedented 5.8% of deputies.

Australia, champion of parity

The Australian Senate is the only chamber where women held more than 50% of seats in 2022 (56.6%). As such, it becomes the first upper house in the world in terms of women's representation, and one of only five in the world where elected women accounted for more than 50%. More generally, by January 1, 2023, six countries (Cuba, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates) had achieved parity or a higher number of women than men. Worldwide, the average proportion of women presiding over parliaments had reached 22.7% (+0.7%).

The American continent, a strong presence

In 2022, the Americas remained the region with the highest representation of women. Women accounted for 30.2% of parliamentarians in the 12 chambers of the eight countries that held parliamentary elections. First place went to Colombia, where historic elections were held. In Brazil and the United States of America, after controversial elections, the diversity of women elected to parliament improved, but the results achieved were among the lowest in the region in terms of female representation. Overall, on January 1, 2023, women accounted for 34.7% of all parliamentarians in the region, across all chambers and countries.

Europe: modest growth and populist drift

The shockwaves caused by the conflict in Ukraine were felt in the elections held in the region throughout the year. Elections in France, Hungary, Italy and Sweden enabled right-wing parties to come to power or consolidate their positions. The percentage of women elected to parliament in Europe reached 31% on average, placing the region second in the world for the proportion of women elected to parliament in 2022. Nevertheless, in more than half of the 15 parliamentary chambers renewed in 13 European countries, women's representation is declining or stagnating. This is particularly the case in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, Portugal, France, Latvia, Serbia and Sweden. Overall, Europe was one of only two regions in the world where the proportion of women parliamentarians lost ground between 2021 and 2022, albeit only slightly (-0.1%).

Sub-Saharan Africa: progress in decisive elections.

Fourteen parliamentary elections were held in 11 sub-Saharan African countries in 2022, with 24.2% of seats won by women (+2.9% on previous elections). Overall, women's representation in sub-Saharan Africa increased over the year, with a regional average of 26.5% across all chambers. East Africa had the highest percentage (32%), albeit with a slight decline. West Africa recorded an increase of 2%, but lagged significantly behind other sub-regions. In three countries, the percentage of women elected reached or exceeded 30%, notably in the unicameral parliaments of Senegal (44.2%) and Angola (33.6%), the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) of Equatorial Guinea (31%) and the Senate of Kenya (30.9%).

In Asia

In Asia, the results obtained in 2022 reflect major disparities. In Japan, where the Senate is traditionally male-dominated, the number of women elected has never been higher. In India, on the other hand, women won just 15.1% of seats in the upper house, well below global and regional averages. The rate of growth in women's representation was highest in the Pacific region (+1.7 points), with an average of 22.6% women in parliament. For the first time ever, every Pacific parliament has at least one woman member.

Mena Region

In the Middle East and North Africa region, seven chambers were renewed in 2022. On average, 16.3% of the seats in these chambers were won by women, the lowest percentage recorded anywhere in the world that year. Three countries were below 10%: Algeria (upper chamber 4.3%), Kuwait (6.3%) and Lebanon (6.3%). Bahrain stands out in the region with a record number of eight women elected to the lower house, many for the first time.

Quotas, an effective tool

Legislative quotas continue to play a key role in increasing women's representation. Quotas enshrined in the constitution or provided for in electoral laws require a minimum number of candidates to be women (or of the under-represented sex). In the elections held in 2022, the proportion of women elected was significantly higher in chambers with legislative or voluntary party quotas (30.9% vs. 21.2%).