Over the past 50 years, the most progress has been
achieved in securing political rights for women -- the right
to vote and to be elected. Today, there are only a few countries
where women cannot vote or run for public office.
is widely believed that increasing the number of women in
decision-making positions will lead to positive changes for
women and society. However, even though women can run for
office in most countries, their presence in government is
still very low.
- Only 24 women
have been elected heads of state or government in this century.
In 1995 there were 10 women heads of state. Although women's
representation at the highest level of government is generally
weakest in Asia, four of these 10 held office in this region.
- Only 14.1
percent of representatives elected to Parliaments around
the world are women, up from 11.7 in 1997. The percentage
of female cabinet ministers worldwide has risen from 3 in
1987 to 6.2 percent in 1996. In early 1995, Sweden formed
the world's first cabinet to have equal numbers of men and
- Of the 189
highest ranking diplomats to the United Nations, only eleven
- Almost no
women served on the military staff of UN peace keeping between
1957 and 1979. In 1993, 2 percent of the military contingent
of peace-keeping were women. Throughout the history of UN
peace-keeping, there have been only 2 women in top decision-making