Women in Power: 1 in 4 at Parliament, Slightly More Are Managers

(CN) — Two public agencies released reports Friday on women in power. One report says 1 in 4 members of national parliaments across the globe is a woman. Women make up half of the European workforce, but the other study finds that only 1 in 3 is a manager.

The International Parliamentary Union released the report on MPs, short for members of parliament, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference, the last of four world conferences on women hosted by the United Nations. International’s Women Day, it should be noted, is March 8.

While the union found progress — the 24.9% figure in 2020 is up from 11.3% in 1995 — it also said progress has slowed in recent years, especially in Asia.

“At 6.8 percentage points, Asia has recorded the slowest growth rate of any region since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,” the IPU’s 24-page report states.

While Asia ranked second, tied with Europe, when it came to gender parity in 1995, it has dropped this year to fourth out of the six total regions. Three of the Asian countries — Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu — have zero women in parliament.

A female MP, Gabriela Cuevas of Mexico, is president of the International Parliamentary Union.

“As only the second woman presiding the IPU and the youngest in 130 years, I am convinced of the urgent need to have more women in parliament,” Cuevas said in a statement. “It is not enough to have only one in four seats in parliaments; it is not fair that some countries are leaving women behind because of the absence of institutional changes to give them real opportunities to participate in politics; and it is not democratic to pretend that a parliament is truly inclusive if women are not fully represented.”

Unveiling the report Friday at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva, IPU Secretary-General Martin Chungong noted that the idea of gender parity is itself a step up, as the aim at the time of Beijing conference was to get female MPs just to the 30% mark.

Today meanwhile women account for 50% or more MPs in lower or single chambers of parliaments.

Rwanda — which is one of four countries along with Cuba, Bolivia and the United Arab Emirates to reach full gender parity — has over 60% of seats held by women.

Kenyan MP Susan Kihika is president of the IPU Forum of Women Parliamentarians. “More women in parliament leads to better decision-making, more peaceful societies, and more representative democracies that work for everyone,” she said in the statement.

The report touts the Americas at the front of the pack with women represented at 31.3% across all houses combined. Europe came in second at just under 30% and the Pacific is last with 19.4%.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, speaks with from left, French President Emmanuel Macron, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a 2017 EU summit in Brussels. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

The EU’s Eurostat agency released the other Friday report on women in leadership, finding that just 1 in 3 EU managers is a woman, and the number is worse, 1 in 5, among senior executives. On the boards of publicly listed companies, 1 in 4 is a woman.

At 53%, Latvia is the only member state where women are in the majority when it comes to workforce management.

Sweden’s share is 42%, way ahead of the Nordic countries Denmark (27%) and the Netherlands (29%).

Germany and Austria are neck and neck at 31% and 32%, respectively. While Greece clocked in at 32% as well, Cyprus is down at 19%.

Greece and Cyprus are both on the low end of the scale when it comes to female board members: 10% and 9%, respectively.

France, at 45%, has the highest number of female board members in the largest publicly listed companies.

The most female senior executives at the largest publicly listed companies are in Romania (34%), and the Eastern bloc in general: Romania (34%), Estonia (33%), Lithuania (30%) and Latvia (29%).

Bulgaria and Slovenia both ranked at 27%, ahead of Sweden at 24%.

The IPU report touted quotas as a critical success for getting women, especially young women, into parliament — and the EU’s executive arm echoed that notion.

Quotas “can be a very ugly word,” but they are also “a necessary evil … because otherwise we will wait another 100 years for things to change by themselves,” EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said Thursday, describing a push for mandatory quotas of women on company boards.

Dalli spoke to reporters in connection to an announcement by the European Commission that it is crafting legislation to make private companies expose how women are paid less than men for the same work.

“Quotas have been a key determinant of progress in women’s political participation,” Friday’s report from the IPU states. “Of the top 20 countries with the largest share of women in parliament in 2020, 16 apply some type of gender quota.”

France took it upon itself to install quotas and leads EU countries when it comes to women on company boards with 45%.

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