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                       Division for the Advancement of Women
                                 Fact Sheet on
                             WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT
                             as at January 1996*

As part of its regular programme of work in support of the advancement of
women, the Economic and Social Council, under resolution 1990/4, requested
the Secretary-General to disseminate sex-disaggregated information on the
composition of national decision-making institutions at the highest levels,
on a regular basis.  The United Nations Division for the Advancement of
Women has conducted research and created a statistical database on women in
Data on women in government were derived from information published in a
commercially available directory of high-level government officials, the
1996 edition of the Worldwide Government Directory published by Worldwide
Government Directories, Inc. of Bethesda, Maryland.  The directory contains
information on all United Nations Member States and other Observer States,
with information provided for a total of 187 countries.
Cabinet level
 -    The number of female ministers worldwide doubled in the last decade
      from 3.4 per cent in 1987 to 6.8 per cent in 1996.
 -    In 48 countries, there were no women ministers at all.
 -    Women ministers remain concentrated in social areas (14%) compared 
      to legal (9.4%), economic (4.1%), political affairs (3.4%) and the
     executive (3.9%). 
 -    A "critical mass" of 30 per cent women at the ministerial level has
      been achieved in five countries - Barbados, Finland, Liechtenstein,
      Seychelles and Sweden.
 -    Ten additional countries have 20-29 per cent women at the ministerial
      level,including seven from the Europe/Others region - Andorra,
      Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norway - and
      three from the Caribbean (Grenada, Haiti and St. Vincent and the
 -    All other states had less than 20 per cent women at the ministerial
 -    In the Asia and Pacific region and Eastern Europe, very little
      progress has been achieved, with the proportion of women ministers
      being less than 5 per cent.
Sub-ministerial level
 -    In 136 countries, women held no ministerial positions concerned with
      the economy.
 -    In the Asia and Pacific region, women ministers held positions in
      only 2% of all economic ministries.
 -    Globally, only 9.9 per cent of all sub-ministerial positions (Deputy
      Minister, Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary) were
      held by women.
 -    In sectoral terms, women were slightly better represented in social
      ministries in the Europe/Others and the Asia and Pacific regions,
      while they were better represented in legal ministries in Africa and
      Latin America and the Caribbean.
 -    A "critical mass" of 30 per cent women at the sub-ministerial level
      has been achieved in six countries - Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda,
      Bahamas, Costa Rica, San Marino and the United States. 
 -    In eight countries, the proportion of women at the subministerial has
      reached 25 per cent or more - Australia, Dominica, El Salvador,
      Macedonia, New Zealand, Philippines, Sweden, and St. Kitts and Nevis.
 -    In seven additional states, the proportion of women at the
      subministerial level has reached 20 per cent or more - Barbados,
      Colombia, Croatia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana and Norway, .
* Data compiled by the Division for the Advancement of Women, United
Nations, based on January 1996 information from the Worldwide Government
Directory 1996, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.