February 27, 2006

Gains push women to 16.3 pct of world’s lawmakers

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Women made up 16.3 percent of
the membership of parliaments worldwide at the end of 2005,
edging up from 15.7 percent a year earlier, the
Inter-Parliamentary Union reported on Monday.

The latest statistics confirmed that women have made steady
progress in elections since a landmark world conference on
women in Beijing in 1995, when females made up just 11.3
percent of the world's lawmakers, the group said in its annual

Women on average comprised 20 percent of the deputies
elected in the 39 countries which held parliamentary elections
last year, IPU officials told reporters at U.N. headquarters.

In nine countries, more than 30 percent of those elected or
returned to office in 2005 were women, with Norway topping the
list at 37.9 percent, the group said.

Women fared the best in Nordic countries and the worst in
Arab states, the group found in its latest annual roundup.

The United States, which had no elections last year, ranked
69, with 66 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (or 15.2
percent) and fourteen female senators, or 14 percent.

The proportion of women legislators fell in eight countries
last year, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt,
Germany, Kyrgyzstan and St. Vincent and Grenadines, the group

In two countries -- Kyrgyzstan and Micronesia -- elections
were held in 2005 but no women won seats. In Saudi Arabia,
whose parliament was appointed, no women were named because
women there do not have the right to vote or run for election,
the group said.

That brought to nine the total number of countries without
a single female lawmaker as of the end of last year, the survey
found: Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Solomon
Islands, Tuvalu and the United Arab Emirates as well as
Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia and Saudi Arabia.