Just The Facts

Women in Congress: How Does the U.S. Stack Up?

The United States still fares poorly on representation of women in its national legislature.

Credit: Seita Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Eighty-four of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are women.
  • Women Parliamentarians: US ranks behind Bangladesh and Kenya. Just ahead of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
  • The Saudi share of women in parliament is greater than that of the US House of Representatives.

1. While the United States has been a leader on women’s rights historically, it lags in electing women to high political office.

2. Eighty-four of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are women.

3. With a share of 19.4%, the United States is in 95th place globally – down from 70th place in 2011. The share of women did increase, however.

4. The United States thus ranks behind countries such as Bangladesh (20%), even with Kenya or Greece (19.7%) and just ahead of Kyrgyzstan (19.2%) and Tajikistan (19%).

5. The United States oversaw the implementation of new constitutions for Iraq and Afghanistan that guaranteed more female representation.

6. The Iraqi parliament has a 26.5% share of female representation, ranking 56th in the world — and Afghanistan has a 27.7% share, placing 50th. Both rank ahead of the United States itself.

7. Both countries established a quota system reserving about one quarter of their legislatures’ seats for women – a share just above the world average of 22.7%.

8. Due to the quota system, Iraq is now above the Arab States average of 18.4%, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union report.

9. There is a broad range within those countries. Kuwait, for example, has just one woman in parliament, while women make up a fifth of Saudi Arabia’s parliament.

10. The Saudi share of women in parliament is slightly greater than that of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sources: Inter-Parliamentary Union and The Globalist Research Center

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