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Report: Number of women leaders and MPs only inching ahead

March 10, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The number of women leaders and parliament members is only inching forward and remains far from the goal of equality with men in top political posts, the Inter-Parliamentary Union said in a report Tuesday.

According to the IPU’s 2015 map of women in politics, there were just 19 women elected as heads of state and government on Jan. 1, out of 193 U.N. member states.

The IPU said a record 48 countries have 30 percent or more women members in at least one chamber of parliament, up from 46 countries a year ago. The global average for women MPs also reached its highest level — 22 percent, it said.

However, the report said growth was a disappointing 0.3 percent following a record increase of 1.5 percent in 2013, suggesting that the impact of quotas in some countries for women in parliaments is wearing off.

“We are a long way from where the world needs to be on gender equality and women’s political participation,” IPU President Saber Chowdhury said. “This data should be a wake-up call to mobilize political will to change mindsets and take action that will spur progress on this issue.”

While the number of women ministers grew from 670 to 715 during 2014, they represent just 17.7 percent of all government ministers in the world, the report said, and the percentage has only grown by 3.5 percent since 2005.

But on an encouraging note, the IPU said the Arab, Asia, Europe and Pacific regions have reached their highest numbers ever for women ministers. And it said there are only eight countries without a woman minister — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Hungary, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Topping the list for women in parliament was Rwanda whose lower house is 63.8 percent female. It was followed by Bolivia with 53.1 percent women MPs and Andorra with 50 percent. At the bottom of the list, with no women parliamentarians were Micronesia, Palau, Qatar, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women, urged world leaders to “front-load gender equality” in politics and all other fields to achieve the goal of real equality for women by 2030 at the latest.

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