These Countries Have the Most Women in Government

Women's political rights are protected under the Cuban constitution. Editorial credit: BobNoah /
Women's political rights are protected under the Cuban constitution. Editorial credit: BobNoah /

Women constitute about half of the world's population. Despite this fact, women are under-represented in government in many countries. The global participation rate of women in parliament in January 2017 was 23.3%.  On the bright side, countries are exploring measures to increase the participation of women in government at all levels. As a result, women are increasingly being elected into office and are even holding presidentail posts. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has compiled a list of the countries with the largest percentage of women in the Lower House of government. The following are the countries with the most women in government as of January 1, 2019.

Countries With the Most Women in Government

Rwanda: 61.3%

Rwanda is a developing country. With the country’s 2008 election, Rwanda became the 1st country to have the majority of women in the legislature. The increased number of women in the legislature was driven by a national conflict, the Rwanda Genocide, which killed 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days. After the genocide, the number of women in the legislature rose from 18% to 56% in 2008. The increase in female leadership was propelled by two pieces of legislation: the Rwandan Constitution (2003) which included a mandated quota of 30% reserved seats for all women in the legislature, and the Security Council Resolution 1325 which pressed women to participate in the post-conflict reconstruction. However, Rwanda still lacks spectacular gender equality in other aspects of society.

Cuba: 53.2%

Cuba ranks second with 53.2% of parliamentary seats in the Cuban National Assembly held by women. The Cuban constitution guarantees women the same opportunities as men in all fields, including politics.

Bolivia: 53.1%

This Latin American country has the third highest number of women in government. In fact, women hold the majority of Bolivia’s parliamentary seats, with 53.1% of women in the Lower House. Bolivia has made remarkable leaps in women representation, going from 12% in 2000 to 53.1% in 2019. Thanks to the 2010 constitutional changes with mandatory gender quotas, women must occupy at least half of all elected government positions.

Other Countries with Women in Government

Other countries that have been able to aim for gender parity in the parliament are Mexico (48.2%), Sweden (47.3%), Grenada (46.7%), Namibia (46.2%), Costa Rica (45.6%), Nicaragua (44.6%), and South Africa (42.7%). In contrast, the United States has only 23.5% of women in the Lower House. Even countries with women heads of state such as the United Kingdom and Germany ranked fairly low at 32% and 30.9% respectively.

Countries With the Most Women in Government

RankCountryPercentage of Women in Lower House (Source: IPU, 2019)
8Costa Rica
10South Africa

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