US Way Behind World in Women’s Political Power

As of February 2013, ninety-one countries had more women representatives in their national legislatures (or parliaments) than the United States, according to statistics compiled by the International Parliamentary Union.  This means that out of a total of 190 nations on the list, the United States has come close to slipping into the bottom half of the world's nations on this key indicator of social progress.

The 2012 US election resulted in the greatest number of women in Congress ever – 97 in the House and Senate or 18.2% of seats currently occupied.  But, almost every industrialized nation has outpaced the United States as have a growing percentage of "developing" nations.   

The only industrialized nation with fewer elected women in national leadership was Japan, with only 11.3%.  There are 159 nations with more women in parliament than Japan and only 30 with fewer.  Nations in that bottom 30 include Nigeria, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Congo, and Iran. 

Among the nations with more women in national office than the United States are Saudi Arabia (19.9%), China (21.3%), Pakistan (22.5%), Sudan (24%), Afghanistan (26.7%), and South Sudan (24.3%).

The leading nations in women's political empowerment (top 10) are: 

Rwanda (52%)

Andorra (50%)

Cuba (45.2%)

Sweden (44.7%)

Seychelles (43.8%)

Senegal (42.7%)

Finland (42.5%)

South Africa (41%)

Nicaragua (40.2%)

Iceland (39.7%).

The other two Nordic Nations (the leading world regional group) are Norway (39.6% – #11) and Denmark (39.1% – #13).  Mozambique ranked twelfth with 39.2% female representation.  

The complete list can be found at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm.  The United States ranks 77th on that list because 14 nations are in a tie with others – meaning that there are in fact 91 nations with a higher percentage of women in national elected office.

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