5.5.1 Proportion of Seats Held by Women in National Parliaments
Target 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Custodian Organization: UN Statistics Division (UNSD)
Tier Classification: Tier I (a)/ Tier II (b)
To facilitate the implementation of the global indicator framework, all indicators are classified by the IAEG-SDGs (Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators) into three tiers on the basis of their level of methodological development and the availability of data at the global level, as follows:
Tier I: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.
Tier II: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.
Tier III: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.
Definition: The proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments, currently as at 1 February of reporting year, is currently measured as the number of seats held by women members in single or lower chambers of national parliaments, expressed as a percentage of all occupied seats.
National parliaments can be bicameral or unicameral. This indicator covers the single chamber in unicameral parliaments and the lower chamber in bicameral parliaments. It does not cover the upper chamber of bicameral parliaments. Seats are usually won by members in general parliamentary elections. Seats may also be filled by nomination, appointment, indirect election, rotation of members and by-election.
Seats refer to the number of parliamentary mandates, or the number of members of parliament.
Concepts: Seats refer to the number of parliamentary mandates, also known as the number of members of parliament. Seats are usually won by members in general parliamentary elections. Seats may also be filled by nomination, appointment, indirect election, rotation of members and by-election.
Rationale: The indicator measures the degree to which women have equal access to parliamentary decision making. Women’s participation in parliaments is a key aspect of women’s opportunities in political and public life, and is therefore linked to women’s empowerment. Equal numbers of women and men in lower chambers would give an indicator value of 50 per cent.
A stronger presence of women in parliament allows new concerns to be highlighted on political agendas, and new priorities to be put into practice through the adoption and implementation of policies and laws. The inclusion of the perspectives and interests of women is a prerequisite for democracy and gender equality, and contributes to good governance. A representative parliament also allows the different experiences of men and women to affect the social, political and economic future of societies.
Changes in the indicator have been tracked over time. Although the international community has supported and promoted women’s participation in political decision-making structures for several decades, improvement in women’s access to parliament has been slow. This has led to the introduction of special policy measures to increase women’s shares of parliamentary seats in several countries. Those countries that have adopted special measures generally have greater representation of women in parliament than countries without special measures.
Last updated: 30 January 2018
Comments and limitations:
• The number of countries covered varies with suspensions or dissolutions of parliaments. As of 1 February 2016, 193 countries are included.
• There can be difficulties in obtaining information on by-election results and replacements due to death or resignation. These changes are ad hoc events which are more difficult to keep track of. Byelections, for instance, are often not announced internationally as general elections are.
• The data excludes the numbers and percentages of women in upper chambers of parliament. The information in available on the IPU website at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm.
• Parliaments vary considerably in their internal workings and procedures, however, generally legislate, oversee government and represent the electorate. In terms of measuring women’s contribution to political decision making, this indicator may not be sufficient because some women may face obstacles in fully and efficiently carrying out their parliamentary mandate.
Data Source: Data for this indicator was primarily collected from the United Nations Statistics Division’s Open SDG Data Hub. National level data from the UN Statistics Division is compiled by the respective custodian for the SDG indicator, unless otherwise noted. To learn more about the data used in this portal, visit the about page.
Data is accurate as of October 31, 2018.
5.5.1 Proportion of Seats Held by Women in National Parliaments in the Sustainable Development Goals
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5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.
Related 5.5.1 Proportion of Seats Held by Women in National Parliaments Targets
Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate