March 7, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight
Which Nation Has the Most Women in Politics?
Celebrated Entrepreneur and author Barbara Stegemann’s entrepreneurial vision was formed after her best friend—a soldier—was severely wounded in Afghanistan. Stegemann created The 7 Virtues Beauty—a company that sources organic oils from countries experiencing turmoil (such as Afghanistan, Haiti and the Middle East) to encourage change and to reverse the effects of war and poverty. In this Huffington Post blog, Stegemann examine which nations have the most women in politics.
On the 104th International Women’s Day, March 08 we celebrate women’s political, economic and cultural triumphs. Can you guess which country in our global village holds the record for the highest number of women in political office at the national level?
Sweden? Warm. They are fourth highest in the world at 45% representation by women. Canada? Luke warm. We are 48th with 24% female seats at the National Level. The United States? Not there yet. The USA ranks 80th with 16% female representation.
The country with the highest number of women in political office is Rwanda, holding a world record with 64% female representation. Rwanda is the first country with a female majority in political office. Ever.
On International Women’s Day this year, I will touch down in Kigali, Rwanda to meet with the beautiful farmers we work with and I will also have the pleasure to meet with some of these world-record-breaking women in political office.
These very women, some of whom bravely fought to end the horrific genocide 20 years ago bring their courage and wisdom to the law-making table. And it’s making a difference. If the tipping point, according to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is 30% female representation, then Rwanda is proof we need quotas for women in leadership to effect change.
How has Rwanda, one of the fastest growing countries in Africa with the least corruption out of all 50 countries reached, surpassed and exceeded its 30% tipping point? It’s in their constitution. The Rwandan Constitution provides for a 30% quota reserved seats for women in all decision-making bodies.
With a majority of female law-makers, bills are being passed in Rwanda that are advancing female equality. Issues such as violence against women are being taken very seriously and acted upon with a law passed to legalize abortion in the case of rape. Tragically, many women were raped during the genocide, often contracting HIV. The very women who lived this horror and bravely helped end the genocide are making laws to ensure it never happens again!
In our global village, women make up less than 1% of the world’s land owners. An estimated 3.5 billion women and girls still do not have full access to human rights. To reverse this we need more women in political office in our global village passing laws. The formula, the thinking is simple. Encourage democracy and equality and you end poverty and we will get to peace.
The world could learn a few things about how to reverse societal issues by empowering women to run for office. The Ukraine has less than 10% female representation. Lebanon and Iran have only 3% females in political office. Yemen has only .03% women. We have come a long way in the past century, but we can speed up the gap and end war when we collectively press for more women in political office at home and abroad.