Pakistan, Afghanistan fare better than India on women's representation in parliament

The percentage of women in parliaments worldwide barely ticked up from 22.6 per cent in 2015 to 23.3 per cent in 2016. India's percentage is about half the world tally, and is ranked at a dismal 148.

Published: 16th March 2017 09:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2017 10:45 PM   |  A+A-


India ranks 148th globally in terms of representation of women in executive government and parliament, according to a report published by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women. The data published in the report, Women in Politics 2017 Map, showed that women make up only 11.8 per cent (64 MPs) of the 542-member Lok Sabha and 11 per cent (27) of the 245-mmber Rajya Sabha. 

By comparison, Pakistan at 89, Bangladesh at 91, and Afghanistan at 99th rank fared better than India in the subcontinent. India's southern neighbour, Sri Lanka, was ranked lower than India at 179.

In terms of women ministers, India ranks 88 with only five ministers (18.5 per cent) in the cabinet. This level of gender representation among ministers is better than the Asian average of 11 per cent but far worse than the leader of the table, Indonesia, which gives 25.6 per cent of its ministerial positions to women.

The report stated that the number of women in executive government and in Parliament worldwide has stagnated, with only a marginal improvement since 2015. The head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, called for reservation for women in lawmaking bodies across the world.

Regionally, women’s representation in the Americas made the most significant gains, according to the report, rising from 22.45 per cent in 2015 to 25 per cent. In Africa, the proportion of female ministers saw a decline after years of steady growth. About 19.7 per cent of the region’s ministerial posts are held by women.

In Europe, the total percentage of women lawmakers stood at 22.5 per cent. A surprise came from the Nordic countries which have traditionally led the global stage in politics, but whose number of female ministers fell by more than 6 per cent to 43.5 per cent.

Among the Arab States, 9.7 per cent of senior executive posts are held by women, led by Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, at 23.1 per cent and 26.7 per cent, respectively.

“These developments show that progress in gender equality remains slow in all structures of power and types of decision-making. Power is still firmly in men’s hands, and although we have witnessed some positive trends -- for example, the current record number of 53 women speakers of Parliament out of 273 posts, globally -- much remains to be done if women are to play on a level field with men,” said IPU secretary-general Martin Chungong.

“Equal representation in positions of power is a fundamental precondition for truly effective and accountable democracy,” he added.

India has fared moderately in a global ranking of countries as per the percentage of women appointed in ministerial positions, but was at a bleak position in another list on number of women parliamentarians. 

The top five countries as far as women's representation in politics goes are in  Europe and Americas with Bulgaria leading the pack, followed by France, Nicaragua, Sweden and Canada.

The report was launched on the sidelines of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, known as the largest inter-governmental forum on women's rights and gender equality. The theme this year is women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work. A common theme throughout the commission has been the gender pay gap. Women on average are paid 77 cents for every one dollar earned by a man.

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