Discrimination against women in politics

Other Names:
Denial of right to participate in government for women
Sexism in parliamentary institutions
Active political discrimination towards female participation
Prejudicial treatment of women politicians

In human history, only 19 women have been elected heads of state or government of independent countries. All except two of these women were alive in 1993. As an world average, 4% of ministerial posts in government were held by women in 1990; there were no women in ministerial posts in 83 countries. In 1992, 124 parliaments surveyed by the UN had 9.7% of women deputies, on average. The highest percentage was in the western European countries with 14%; however, this figure is greatly influenced by the parliaments of the Nordic countries, which had the highest percentage in the world (averaging 34%).

In the European Parliament in 1993, 20% of the 518 members were women (the highest being Denmark 33%; Holland 24%; Germany 20.5%; the lowest Greece with 4.6%). In national governments of the EC, the percentage of women ministers ranges from 6.8% in Italy to 25% in Holland; with an average 11% of women members of legislative assemblies and the same percentage for national governments as a whole and regional governments, according to the last elections. There were 4 women at head of state level in the EEC/EU (25%).


Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his or her country, directly or indirectly, through freely chosen representatives; and the right to equal access to public service in his or her country, as part of the essential human rights of every individual and the principle of equality of rights for men and women. Yet, in many countries, women are denied their political rights, including the right to vote in all elections, and the right to hold public office and to exercise all public functions, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination.

Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Date of last update
13.05.2019 – 20:38 CEST