One fifth of parliamentarians elected in 2005 across the globe were women, according to a report released in February 2006 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). This brings the average of women in parliament (Congress for us in the U.S.) in 187 countries to 16.3%, up from 15.7% in December 2004.
Of the 39 countries that held elections in 2005, the numbers of women in parliament increased in 28 of them. The largest gains were seen in Latin American countries where some countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras and Venezuela) have implemented quotas to promote women in politics. Other countries to implement special measures are New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Burundi, Liberia, Afghanistan and the United Republic of Tanzania.
On the Down Side
A decrease of women in parliament occurred in 8 countries last year.
The greatest setback occurred in Kyrgyzstan, where the number of women in parliament dropped to zero. Other countries to experience drops were Bulgaria, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Germany and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Putting up High Numbers
As of February 2006, there are 19 countries with women making up over 30% of their parliaments. In order of highest percentage, those are: Rwanda (48.8), Sweden (45.3), Norway (37.9 ), Finland (37.5), Denmark (36.9), Netherlands (36.7), Cuba (36.0), Spain (36.0), Costa Rica (35.1), Argentina (35.0), Mozambique (34.8), Belgium (34.7), Austria (33.9), Iceland (33.3), South Africa (32.8), New Zealand (32.2 ), Germany (31.8), Guyana (30.8), Burundi (30.5), Tanzania (30.4).
How does America Rank?
In a list of 187 countries, America ranks 69th percentage wise with 15.2% of Congress being women. But after accounting for ties, the USA is really 83rd on list — just 10 away from halfway to the bottom of the barrel.
Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Of 187 countries listed with the IPU, those with no women in parliament at all number 11: Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Nauru, Nepal, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and United Arab Emirates.