Which country has the most women in parliament?

This week I read that in the world rankings for women in government, Britain comes 65th, as just 147 of our 650 members of parliament are women. That’s just below Madagascar at 64. We used to be 59th, but slipped backwards at the last election. For US readers, you’re at 86th with 18% women. That’s ten places below Saudi Arabia.

The Electoral Reform Society has some recommendations for how we encourage the political parties to work on this, but I wanted to mention some of the countries with a better balance of men and women in parliament. Here’s the top ten, and it’s a surprising list:

  1. Rwanda
  2. Andorra
  3. Cuba
  4. Sweden
  5. Seychelles
  6. Senegal
  7. Finland
  8. Nicaragua
  9. Ecuador
  10. South Africa

Rwanda is the only country in the world with more women in parliament than men, with 63% female representation. Andorra is the only country that is 50/50, with Cuba a whisker away from an even split. Everyone else has more men than women, right down to the bottom of the list and parliaments with no women at all, which seem to be mainly in the Middle East or small island states.

18 Comments on “Which country has the most women in parliament?”

  1. DevonChap September 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    Freedom House rankings: Political rights – Civil liberties – Free/Not

    Rwanda – 6 – 5 – Not Free
    Andorra – 1 -1 – Free
    Cuba – 7 – 6 – Not Free
    Sweden – 1 – 1 – Free
    Seychelles – 3 – 3 – Partly
    Senegal – 2 – 2- Free
    Finland – 1 – 1 – Free
    Nicaragua – 4 – 3 – Partly
    Ecuador – 3 – 3 – Partly
    South Africa – 2 – 2 – Free

    So the genitalia of lawmakers doesn’t mean free societies.

    • Jeremy Williams September 3, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      I’m not saying it does. But I do believe we can do better in creating a government that reflect society.

      • DevonChap September 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

        Quotas over freedom! Quite a rallying cry.

        • Jeremy Williams September 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

          In a disputatious mood, are we?

          • DevonChap September 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

            You don’t seem to join dots. Here is one copied press release, here is another contradictory one. No wider view.

          • Jeremy Williams September 4, 2014 at 10:00 am #

            Kindly elaborate. Which press releases are those? And can you point out the contradiction?

            I’ll give you a start. This is the press release that prompted the post. You can see for yourself if it is ‘copied’.

          • DevonChap September 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

            I accept this isn’t just a press release. The press release is more interesting.

            But I do note that you almost never comment on the political situation on the countries you praise.

            Cuba gets good press here, no mention of the repression, Same with Rwanda. Ecuador also never gets told off.

            Liberty and freedom isn’t an issue round here.

          • Jeremy Williams September 6, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

            It is a fact that those countries have the highest rates of women in parliament. My post does nothing other than highlight that fact. I don’t have to qualify everything as if my readers are idiots.

          • DevonChap September 6, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

            You never qualify, almost as if freedom is secondary.

          • Jeremy Williams September 8, 2014 at 9:31 am #

            No, I didn’t mention freedom. Neither did I mention economic performance, sustainability, life expectancy, literacy or 101 other things that may or may not be correlated in some way with the number of women in parliament.

            Take another look at the title of the blog post. It’s a simple question that came to mind when I read the press release saying that Britain was 65th – hmm, I wonder who’s at the top of those rankings.

            Having satisfied my curiosity on that score, I’ve posted what I found out. I’m not claiming anything beyond that.

    • john Taylor September 3, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      What on earth does it matter if we have more men in Parliament than women-Women produce children, Men can’t, Women are the most suited parent to look after these children-if they choose later in their lives after their children have grown up to enter a career in politics, then fine, who’s stopping them. But with the never ending emasculation of men, women have far more of a say in what goes down, however just let us blokes keep something! Many women such as my wife have no interest in advancing a political career, so let women be women and take any pressure away from them from feeling inferior if they prefer not to enter politics or become a CEO of something.

      • Tegan Tallullah September 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

        I find your attitude old-fashioned, insulting and more than a little sexist.
        Any primary school human biology book will tell you men and women produce children together. It’s not just a ”woman thing”. Your claim that the emasculation of men means women are now more in charge of things is vague and lacking evidence, and frankly ridiculous. Just because your wife doesn’t want a career in politics doesn’t mean the gender inequality in the field is not relevant. “Let women be women” is a useless statement. I suppose you mean, let women behave in ways that you deem normal and acceptable. I have an active interest in politics and might even wish to enter the field one day. I don’t see how this makes me less womanly. I suggest you take a look around and open your eyes to the fact it’s 2014 not 1955.

  2. Jeremy Williams September 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Good for you and your wife. I personally think that we’d have a much healthier democracy and a more cooperative brand of politics if we had more women in parliament.

    • john Taylor September 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

      Agree to a degree Jeremy, but let’s not enforce the issue and above all ensure that such women that want to enter politics have already had some fair experience of life-not just out of University/further education. We are moving into very dangerous times and a steady hand is needed on the tiller supported by able and trustworthy individuals, male & female- As WS Churchill once quoted ‘The price of Freedom is constant Vigilance’.

      • Jeremy Williams September 4, 2014 at 9:53 am #

        Well, let’s not start by jumping to conclusions about anyone who raises the matter. I haven’t called for any kind of enforcement, or for quotas. All I’ve done is point out that some countries have a better balance than we do, and all the comments so far (on the blog at least) have been entirely negative. How we achieve a better balance is something to discuss. I don’t think I have any magic solutions, which is why I haven’t proposed any. But I do think we can do better, and that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.

  3. john Taylor September 4, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Yes agree perhaps there is too much of a negative view being put forward-however where does one begin? What enticements can be offered? No doubt a lot of long hours and hard work and more often than not away from their home and family. Maybe a reason why there are few offering themselves. So how do we achieve a better balance as you put it. Only answer I have is for women who really are serious about entering politics get on with it and lobby as hard as poss and get the men on their side rather than against. Sorry I am not much help here.

    • Jeremy Williams September 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

      We can start with the suggestions of women who are already in parliament. For example, the late hours of scheduled debates and votes make it harder for those with families (and that affects fathers too). Those late hours were originally so that far-flung MPs could travel in, but that’s hardly as relevant today as it was. Some women in parliament have reported that they are patronised, or feel themselves pushed towards ‘women’s issues’. It’s a very male dominated culture, and that’s been hard to shift.

      A lot of the work to do is on the selection process, which is why most campaigners on this issue focus on the parties. In safe seats, parties just have to put forward someone who ‘looks like an MP’, and that easily defaults to a white man.

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