All over the world, women have for years been pushing for an increased public voice and presence. Fortunately, in many places this has come to fruition, as evidenced by the high levels of female representation within many nations' national legislatures. We have compiled a list of those countries with the greatest proportions of their respective national level legislative bodies being made up by women. There are definitely regional trends to be seen in this list, with five of the countries being located in Africa, three in Latin America, and two in Scandinavia.
10. Namibia (41% of representatives)
Namibia ranks fourth among the African countries in terms of the percentage of women represented in national parliaments. With 41% of the country’s parliament seats being occupied by Namibian women, a number double of that seen in the last parliament, the country definitely seems to have progressed in the fields of female empowerment and recognition of women's rights.
9. Finland (42% of representatives)
Just like other Nordic countries, Finland has always propagated the need for gender equality, and worked hard towards achieving the same goal. In 1906, the country’s national assembly, referred to as the Eduskunta in the native Finnish language, became the first parliament in the world to give women the exclusive right to vote and also run in the polls as a candidate. Since then, there has been no looking back and Finland. With its excellent achievements in its attempts to bridge the gender gap, Finland has always managed to be a shining star in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report. Currently, most fields of work in the nation have a significant female workforce, including its national parliament, where 42% of the seats are held by female representatives.
8. Ecuador (42% of representatives)
The fact that Ecuador, a Latin American country, is making major strides in empowering its women, is reflected in the parliamentary representation of female candidates in the country. 42% of the elected seats in Ecuador’s Parliament are occupied by women. The result reflects the hard work of various governmental and non-governmental organizations pushing to reduce the gender disparity in the country.
7. South Africa (42% of representatives)
Before democracy arrived in South Africa, the position of women in this country was quite miserable, with only a meager 2.7% representation level of women in the national parliament of the country. However, things ave changed drastically over the years since, and currently the South African Parliament has 42% of its seats occupied by elected female representatives. The success of this story dates back to the formation of democratic South Africa and introduction of a new Constitution, which included women’s rights as a vital part of the document. The Women’s Charter, a document mentioning women’s rights, was also adopted under the Women's National Coalition campaign in 1994. A number of organizations and departments, like the Office on the Status of Women, were set up by the new democratic government of the country to ensure such policies were actually implemented. It is believed that all of these measures adopted since 1994 have yielded positive influences on women's empowerment throughout South Africa.
6. Senegal (43% of representatives)
The Parity Law passed in Senegal appears to have gone a long way in establishing a significant position for women in the country’s politics. The law was passed in 2010, directing all parties and coalitions contesting for elections in Senegal to put forward an equal number of male and female representatives. The effects of this law were witnessed in the 2012 parliamentary elections, when 64 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly were occupied by women. Also, a large number of women's organizations and non-government organizations carried out awareness campaigns before the elections to make the general public more aware of this law. The campaign appears to have been fruitful, with a jump from 22% of parliament seats being occupied by women in the previous parliament to 43% in the current one.
5. Sweden (44% of representatives)
The Scandinavian countries have always managed to secure respectable positions in terms of female empowerment. Sweden has constantly made efforts to bride the gender gap in the country, with positive results being reflected consistently in its parliamentary elections. The country has the fifth highest representation by women among all national legislatures in the world. The 2014 elections witnessed a 44% female representation in Sweden’s National Parliament, as 152 of the 349 seats were occupied by female candidates. 12 of the 24 government ministries of Sweden are headed by a woman as well.
4. Seychelles (44% of representatives)
The Seychelles has set an example of gender equality and women's empowerment for the countries in the SADC region by electing a 43% female representative proportion in the national parliament of the country. 20 female candidates ran in the 2011 National Assembly elections in the country, with 12 of them winning seats in the Assembly. Besides politics, the women of Seychelles wield great influence both in their homes and in the public sphere. As per a 2010 survey, 55% of households in the country are headed by a woman, and the country also has a substantial female workforce. These productive members of the Seychelles' society are contributing to such various fields as education, health, manufacturing, public administration, and other vital sectors.
3. Cuba (49% of representatives)
Cuba has made rapid progress in the field of women's empowerment, fighting all odds as its society is achieving its goals. Cuba holds a consistent high rank in international surveys regarding the position of Cuban women in their society. It ranked 18 among 142 countries in the world in terms of women’s political empowerment at the national level, and women currently occupy 49% of legislative seats in the country. Thus, this small island nation in the Caribbean leaves behind many developed countries of the world in terms of its rising "woman power".
2. Bolivia (53% of representatives)
The latest parliamentary elections of Bolivia, held in October of 2014, proved to be a huge success in terms of the number of female candidates placed into places of power by the voting population of the country. Bolivia’s national parliament, with a 53% female proportion among its representatives, now has more women than men, earning the country a prestigious second place rank among all countries of the world in terms of the relative number of female representatives in national legislatures.
1. Rwanda (64% of representatives)
The recent Rwandan Parliamentary elections in 2013 ushered in an era of new hope for all Rwandan women, with 64% of parliamentary seats in the country being occupied by women. Various national organizations working in the country, in cooperation with such international organizations as the UN, have pursued gender equality in the country, especially since the despair of 1994. Before the 1994 Rwandan genocide, women were represented with only 18% of the nation's parliamentary seats. That figure consistently improved over the years, with the elections in 2008 being a major win for the female candidates of Rwanda, as 56.3% of parliamentary seats were held by female representatives. Since then, there has been no looking back for the Rwandan woman, and the statistics generated from the 2013 elections reveal this fact even more still.