Only 23% of the world's politicians are women. It's time for that to change
In July, the leaders of the G20 nations gathered for as they kicked off their summit meeting in Germany. Of the 36 people , how many were women? Just four: Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, Theresa May, prime minister of the UK, Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund.
With Merkel and May now under severe political pressure, that number might even fall. An opportune time, then, for female politicians to come together to share their experiences.
This week in Reykjavik, some 300 female politicians from more than 90 countries are meeting The conference is run by Women Political Leaders, an independent organisation that aims to increase the number and influence of women in political leadership positions, in collaboration with the Council of Women World Leaders, a network for female prime ministers and presidents, set up 20 years ago by Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the former president of Iceland, and chaired by Dalia Grybauskaite, the president of Lithuania.
At , politicians and policy experts are discussing issues such as leadership, legislation and policies that work for women, in areas including peace, defence and security; the impact on women’s lives of digital and technology; and how to include gender impact in government policy-making.
Around the world, women are closing the gender gap in areas such as health and education, but significant gender inequality persists in politics. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 estimates it will be 217 years before women achieve gender parity.
, in June 2016 only 22.8% of all national parliamentarians were women – up from 11.3% in 1995. Meetings like the one in Reykjavik serve a pragmatic purpose, identifying practical measures to dismantle barriers holding up further progress and gathering evidence on the influence of women in powerful positions.
Silvana Koch-Mehrin, founder president of the global forum, recently wrote that more than a decade of data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realising the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes.
In the UK, at the 2017 general election, 32% of all MPs and a record high. Prior to 1987 women had never been more than 5% of MPs. A total of 489 women have been elected to the Commons since 1918. There are 210 women (26%), in the House of Lords.
In the Scottish parliament, 35% of members are women, while just over two fifths, 42%, of the members of the Welsh national assembly are women, and 30% of members of the Northern Ireland assembly.
Following the 2014 European parliament elections, 41% of UK MEPs are women.
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