Press Release
March 6, 2010

Pia: "Men still make the laws of the world"

Men continue to dominate membership in national parliaments all over the world despite significant gains in women's empowerment and participation in governance in recent years.

This was the finding of the latest study on women membership in national parliaments by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), according to Senator Pia S. Cayetano of the Philippines.

Cayetano, President of the IPU committee of women parliamentarians, said that barely just one out of every five lawmakers (18.8 percent) in the world today is a woman.

"Even in these modern times where women have become more politically aware and socially empowered, the hard and sad fact is that men continue to write the laws of our world," Cayetano stressed.

The Filipino senator chaired the 54th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, an annual conference of parliamentarians jointly organized by the IPU and United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women.

More than 140 representatives from 150 countries attended the main conference and side meetings held at the UN Headquarters in New York from March 2-4.

Cayetano noted that as of January 31, the IPU found out that men made up 36,330 (81.2 percent) while women occupied only 8,767 (18.8 percent) of the 44,767 seats of parliaments (combined upper and lower houses) all over the world.

This figure represents a marginal improvement from 18.3 percent in 2009, and still a far cry from the target set by the UN Economic and Social Council of having a minimum of 30 percent women lawmakers in all parliaments. In 1995, women occupied only 11.3 percent of the world's combined parliamentary seats.

She added that the IPU has been at the forefront of promoting the election of female legislators among its member-parliaments. Among the schemes the world body has introduced is the setting of "gender quotas" to encourage more women to enter politics.

Compared by regional averages, Nordic countries and the Americas registered the highest ratio of women parliamentarians at 42.1 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively. They are followed by Europe (19.9 to 21.8 percent), Asia (18.9 percent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (18.4 percent). The regions with the lowest ratio of women parliamentarians are the Pacific (13.2 percent) and Arab countries (10.1 percent).

In the Philippines, she noted that women comprise only four of the current 23 members of the Senate (17.4 percent) and occupy 51 out of 240 seats in the House of Representatives (21.3 percent).

Cayetano concluded: "The active participation of women and the integration of their perspective in all levels of governance are crucial in pursing social equity, genuine development and peace in any country.

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