Gloria Steinem famously summarized women’s liberation as a struggle that “…belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” What better a scale to consider women’s equality than a global scale?
This week, in honour of International Women’s Day, we have mapped 2012 data that shows what percentage of parliamentary seats are held by women from nation to nation.
Starting off in the Americas, the most progressive countries are Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Argentina with 45.2%, 40.2%, 38.6% and 37.4% women in parliament respectively. Wondering how team NAFTA compares? The results are not that impressive. While Mexico holds its own with its Central and South American neighbours at 36.8%, Canada (24.7%) and the United States (17%) trail embarrassingly behind when it comes to the proportional representation of women.
Europe is dominated by the Scandinavian countries with Sweden (44.7%), Finland (42.5%) and Norway (39.6%) amongst the most progressive nations in the world. The United Kingdom (22.3%) is quite close to its ideological BFF America, and women in office numbers plummet in the Black Sea region.
The Middle East is obviously no bastion of women’s liberation but there are some surprises. Postwar Iraq now has a region-high 25.2% of parliamentary seats held by women. This figure stands in stark contrast to the abysmal stats of neighbouring nations – with Saudi Arabia having no women holding parliamentary seats.
Africa demonstrates super high-contrast regional trends that range from a world-leading 56.3% majority of parliamentary seats held by women in Rwanda to the cluster of countries around the Bight of Benin (the western African coast) that hover around 10%.
While great economic, social and political gains have been made by women around the world, the global numbers still don’t add up. It takes one look at the daily headlines to understand that women continue to face systematic discrimination – hopefully the women politicians represented by this map can continue to fight the good fight for everyone’s benefit.