The United Nations Development Fund for Women has released a report that details an increase in women’s participation in politics by 8 percent worldwide since 1998. Globally, 18.4% of parliament-level officials are women. However, even if the current trend continues, the report indicates that women in “developing countries will not reach the ‘parity zone’ where neither sex holds more than 60% of seats until 2045.” Given current trends developed countries are expected to take about 20 years to reach the ‘parity zone.’
A number of ways to strengthen political accountability to women are also identified: strong mobilization of grassroots women’s movements as key parts of challenging authoritarianism, creating peace, and lobbying for legislation; electoral quotas; increased numbers of women in office give greater attention to women’s issues; and strong implementation of policies impacting women. The report also examines women’s access to basic public resources, governmental and judicial accountability on issues important to women, and women’s position in relation to the worldwide economy.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, is quoted in the report: “Half, even more than half, of ‘the people’ are women. Yet for far too long, women’s will, women’s voices, women’s interests, priorities, and needs have not been heard, have not determined who governs, have not guided how they govern, and to what ends. Since women are amongst the least powerful of citizens, with the fewest social and economic resources on which to build political power, special efforts are often needed to elicit and amplify their voice.”