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How Many Women Are There in the World's Legislatures?

Women hold about 20% of the seats in parliaments and legislatures around the world. Rwanda has the highest percentage of female representatives — 56% as of 2012. In fact, Rwandan law requires that 30% of its members of the Chamber of Deputies be women. Several countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and The Federated States of Micronesia, have no female legislators. Yemen has one female legislator.

More about women in the legislature:

  • In the US, as of 2012, Colorado has the most representatives that are women — 40% — South Carolina has the lowest — less than 10%.

  • Some countries have gender-based laws that reserve a specific percentage of seats in their parliaments or legislatures. Other countries do not legally mandate that women hold a certain number of seats, but their political parties might self-impose quotas.

  • At least 40 countries (less than 20% of all countries) have legally established some type of gender quota system for their legislatures. Political parties in at least 50 countries have established a voluntary system.

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