Women in Politics: Much Yet to Be Done

News from Cuba | Tuesday, 6 March 2012

from Prensa Latina

Though the presence of women in governments and parliaments leaves a lot to be desired, Latin America is showing notable advances, mainly in countries like Cuba and Nicaragua.

The area covering Latin America and the Caribbean plus the United States and Canada ranks first in female representation in legislative bodies (22.7 percent), leading Europe (22.3 percent).

However, a particular area grouping Nordic states is at the top, with 42 percent of seats with female legislators, according to the report Women in Politics 2012, drafted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IU).

Cuba and Nicaragua are the only Latin American countries among the world's top 10 with greater presence of female legislators, even leading Iceland and Norway, two of the four leading Nordic states (along with Finland and Sweden).

The figures show Cuba in third place among all countries worldwide with the highest rate of female legislators in its National Assembly, with 45.2 percent in December, 2011.

The report also highlights the case of Nicaragua, where that index increased from 18.5 percent to 40.2 percent in the elections held last year.

The top ten are Ruanda (56.3 percent), Andorra (50 percent), Cuba, Sweden (44.7 percent both), Seychelles (43.8 percent), Finland (42.5 percnet), South Africa (42.3 percent), Holland (40.7 percent), Nicaragua and Iceland (39.7 percent).

The United States ranks 78th, with 16.8 percent of women in the Lower Chamber and 17 percent in the Senate.

All these figures mean that less than one in every five parliamentary seats worldwide is held by women, which is "worrying, impossible to justify at this level of human development, " according to IU Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson, who spoke at a press conference in the UN

headquarters in New York on the occasion of the annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

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