Women are changing the world, and that includes politics. It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in politics around the globe. According to a report by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), just 23% of parliamentarians worldwide were women in 2018—a meager increase from roughly 20% in 2012.
But while progress has been slow overall, there are still some countries where women are leading the way. Here’s a list of six nations that are leading the world for women in politics:
Rwanda is a small country in East Africa that was once known for its brutal genocide. However, Rwanda has turned a new leaf and become a model for political stability and economic growth.
In 2008, the government passed the Electoral Law of 2008. The law requires at least 30% representation of women in all political party candidate lists. This has resulted in an unprecedented number of women serving in Rwandan politics: 64% percent of members of parliament (MPs) are female, 55% of ministers are female, and 67% percent of mayors are female.
Rwanda has also been a leader in women’s rights and gender equality. For example, the government requires that all public institutions have at least 30% representation of women. It has also passed laws against sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape.
Cuba has the second-highest percentage of women in parliament, at 58%—more than double the global average. However, this is down from a high of 73% when it took first place on this list in 2015. Nevertheless, this is an impressive feat, given how little attention Cuba gets compared to other countries with similar numbers of female politicians.
Cuba’s representation of women runs across various sectors. There are no fewer than 18 female ministers, two deputy prime ministers, and one vice president; three mayors and one governor are also female.
3. United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the world’s most progressive countries. It ranks high globally for female representation in politics, with 50% of its parliament seats being filled by women.
The UAE has also achieved gender parity at every level of education and has been ranked fourth worldwide for years, with females enrolled in school. Women are also well-represented in the country’s economic sector. They make up almost half of all employees and holding many leadership positions.
Nicaragua is a country on the move. It has a female vice president, Rosario Murillo, and a female president, Carmen Zelaya. The country’s National Assembly has 36.8% female representatives, more than any other Latin American country.
The world has already seen what happens when women are given opportunities to lead.
5. New Zealand
The country has a female prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. And when she was elected in 2017, New Zealand became the first country to have a female leader who gave birth while in office.
And it’s not just politicians: Women also lead major companies in New Zealand. The first woman to head a major airline worldwide was Rob Fyfe at Virgin Australia, and there are several women CEOs of large national banks. These women are often referred to as “the Ginger Mafia” due to their red hair—even though they don’t all share the same shade!
Sweden is a Scandinavian country known for its liberal policies and progressive values, which include gender equality. It was one of the first countries to allow women to vote and hold political office in 1906, and the proportion of women in parliament has been higher than in most other countries since the early 20th century.
Today, Sweden has one of the highest proportions of women in politics among all countries—a whopping 43%.
The world is changing
Women are rising to power in politics, and it’s happening worldwide. In almost every country that has held elections since 2017, more women have been elected to political positions than ever before—even in countries where women traditionally have no political representation.
The number of women occupying senior positions is also increasing globally. UN Women reports that “half of all countries have at least one female chief justice or attorney general.” And many countries are electing their first female presidents and re-electing them after serving their terms. The world is changing.