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Which Countries Have the Most Women in Parliament?

As budding female politicians in Saudia Arabia sign up to run in elections following historic rulings that allow women to be more involved in local government, we take a comparative look at women’s political empowerment around the world.

The statistics on women in parliament comes from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which has just updated its database to reveal that there are now two countries in the world with more women than men in parliament — Rwanda and Bolivia.

Country Women in parliament (%)
1 Rwanda                  63.8
2 Bolivia                  53.1
3 Cuba                  48.9
4 Seychelles                  43.8
5 Sweden                  43.6
6 Senegal                  42.7
7 South Africa                  41.9
8 Ecuador                  41.6
9 Finland                  41.5
10 Iceland                  41.3

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

Legislation is a key driver of female representation. Heading up the African contingent is Rwanda, by far the best performer with 64 women (to 36 men) in parliament, helped by a law stipulating that 30% of all parliamentary seats be held by women. The next African state to figure is South Africa, where the African National Congress upped its quota of women in government from 30% to 50% in 2009.

In second position comes Bolivia where 2010 legislation requires equal numbers of male and female candidates in elections.

Nordic countries also feature strongly with Sweden, Finland and Iceland (top performer in the 2014 Global Gender Report) all making it into the top 10.