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Women representation in politics UPSC NOTE

 Current state of women’s representation in politics globally

  • The year 2024 is being hailed as the biggest year for democracy, with 45% of the global population preparing to exercise their voting rights or having already cast their ballots. 

  • It thus becomes imperative to assess how women are represented in politics and and leadership roles.

  • Women’s representation in political spheres improved in the latter half of the 20th century.

  • This is with significant progress made in many nations in securing voting rights and parliamentary seats, and in climbing to the highest political offices. 

  • And despite substantial gains, women continue to constitute a minority in most parliamentary bodies and are rarely seen in top political leadership positions.

  • Data compiled by political scientist Svend-Erik Skaaning and colleagues show that until the mid-19th century.

  • Universal suffrage was virtually non-existent for both men and women across the world.

  •  However, a stark divergence then emerged, as men in certain nations were granted voting rights while women were excluded. 

  • New Zealand broke this pattern by extending universal suffrage to women in 1893.

  • The gap between male and female political participation widened in the early 20th century.

  • But despite women gaining suffrage in more countries, as men’s voting rights expanded even further. 

  • By the onset of World War II, men had the right to vote in one out of three countries, while women did in only one out of six countries.

  • The gap then rapidly closed when the voting rights discrimination against women ended in many countries, and both women and men gained the right to vote in many others

  • The share of countries where both men and women have the right to vote, the share of countries where only men have the right to vote, and the share of countries where there is no universal right to vote.

  • In the early 20th century, women were largely absent from national parliaments, according to data based on the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project

  • Norway first saw women enter parliament in 1907; nearly 10% of the country’s parliamentary seats were occupied by women.

  • But the latter half of the 20th century witnessed a significant surge in the number of women entering parliament. 

  • This trend accelerated in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. 

  • Rwanda’s parliamentary composition surpassed the 50% mark for women’s representation in 2008 setting a remarkable precedent. 

  • In the same year, countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Finland, and Sweden had between 40% and 50% women parliamentarians.

Progress and Challenges of women in politics

  • As of 2015, every country grants women the right to vote, a huge leap from New Zealand's pioneering move in 1893.

  • We've seen a rise in female Heads of State and Government, with inspiring figures like Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) breaking barriers.

  • Globally, women hold around 26.5% of parliamentary seats, with some nations like Rwanda leading the way at over 60%.

Challenges Remain

  • Despite the progress, significant hurdles persist:

  • Slow Pace: The current rate of change predicts achieving gender parity in leadership positions could take over a century.

  • Unequal AccessFinancial and logistical barriers make it harder for women to campaign. 

  • Unpaid care work adds another layer of difficulty.

  • Gender Bias: Societal stereotypes and a lack of female role models in politics discourage some women from entering the field.

  • Violence and Harassment: Women politicians often face violence, threats, and online harassment, creating a hostile environment.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Women representation in politics UPSC NOTE
Women representation in politics UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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