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Mapped: Where Women Hold the Most and Least Political Power

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Where Women Hold the Most and Least Political Power

View the medium or highest resolution version of this map to explore all countries.

From the right to vote, to owning property and assets, women’s legal and economic rights have come a long way.

International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8th is an opportunity to commemorate global improvements around gender equality. One big driver for this is women’s political participation—however, progress in this area has not been distributed evenly worldwide.

Women’s Political Power: Share of Ministers in Cabinets

In this map, we dig into how much political power women hold around the world. The Council on Foreign Relations pulls the latest data from UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to examine the shares of women holding ministerial positions in 195 national cabinets.

Here are the top five countries with the highest percentages of women’s political power:

  • 🇪🇸 Spain: 66.7%
  • 🇫🇮 Finland: 61.1%
  • 🇳🇮 Nicaragua: 58.8%
  • 🇨🇴 Colombia: 57.9%
  • 🇦🇹 Austria: 57.1%

Even though women make up half the global population, they’re not always represented at higher levels of government. Only 14 countries have at least 50% women holding ministerial positions in the national cabinet.

CountryRegion% Women in National Cabinet
AfghanistanAsia-Pacific9.7
AlbaniaEurope53.3
AlgeriaMiddle East/North Africa15.2
AndorraEurope50.0
AngolaSub-Saharan Africa40.0
Antigua and BarbudaAmericas15.4
ArgentinaAmericas22.7
ArmeniaEurope7.1
AustraliaAsia-Pacific26.7
AustriaEurope57.1
AzerbaijanEurope3.0
BahamasAmericas6.7
BahrainMiddle East/North Africa4.4
BangladeshAsia-Pacific7.7
BarbadosAmericas26.1
BelarusEurope3.5
BelgiumEurope25.0
BelizeAmericas6.3
BeninSub-Saharan Africa20.8
BhutanAsia-Pacific10.0
BoliviaAmericas25.0
Bosnia and HerzegovinaEurope22.2
BotswanaSub-Saharan Africa21.1
BrazilAmericas9.1
BruneiAsia-Pacific0.0
BulgariaEurope36.8
Burkina FasoSub-Saharan Africa14.3
BurundiSub-Saharan Africa26.1
CambodiaAsia-Pacific9.4
CameroonSub-Saharan Africa14.9
CanadaAmericas50.0
Cape VerdeSub-Saharan Africa21.4
Central African RepublicSub-Saharan Africa20.0
ChadSub-Saharan Africa25.9
ChileAmericas33.3
ChinaAsia-Pacific6.5
ColombiaAmericas57.9
ComorosSub-Saharan Africa8.3
Costa RicaAmericas50.0
Cote d'IvoireSub-Saharan Africa12.8
CroatiaEurope20.0
CubaAmericas21.9
CyprusEurope15.4
Czech RepublicEurope28.6
Democratic Republic of CongoSub-Saharan Africa17.4
DenmarkEurope31.6
DjiboutiSub-Saharan Africa13.0
DominicaAmericas31.3
Dominican RepublicAmericas17.4
East TimorAsia-Pacific18.2
EcuadorAmericas37.9
EgyptMiddle East/North Africa24.2
El SalvadorAmericas47.1
Equatorial GuineaSub-Saharan Africa7.1
EritreaSub-Saharan Africa17.7
EstoniaEurope14.3
EswatiniSub-Saharan Africa31.6
EthiopiaSub-Saharan Africa47.6
FijiAsia-Pacific23.1
FinlandEurope61.1
FranceEurope52.9
GabonSub-Saharan Africa26.1
GambiaSub-Saharan Africa22.2
GeorgiaEurope45.5
GermanyEurope40.0
GhanaSub-Saharan Africa25.0
GreeceEurope11.1
GrenadaAmericas41.7
GuatemalaAmericas13.3
GuineaSub-Saharan Africa10.8
Guinea-BissauSub-Saharan Africa50.0
GuyanaAmericas40.0
HaitiAmericas-
HondurasAmericas33.3
HungaryEurope15.4
IcelandEurope40.0
IndiaAsia-Pacific12.5
IndonesiaAsia-Pacific14.3
IranMiddle East/North Africa6.5
IraqMiddle East/North Africa4.6
IrelandEurope26.7
IsraelMiddle East/North Africa16.7
ItalyEurope33.3
JamaicaAmericas23.5
JapanAsia-Pacific15.8
JordanMiddle East/North Africa13.8
KazakhstanRussia/Central Asia5.0
KenyaSub-Saharan Africa26.1
KiribatiAsia-Pacific0.0
KosovoEurope-
KuwaitMiddle East/North Africa21.4
KyrgyzstanRussia/Central Asia9.5
LaosAsia-Pacific11.1
LatviaEurope23.1
LebanonMiddle East/North Africa31.6
LesothoSub-Saharan Africa7.4
LiberiaSub-Saharan Africa22.2
LibyaMiddle East/North Africa-
LiechtensteinEurope40.0
LithuaniaEurope7.7
LuxembourgEurope29.4
MadagascarSub-Saharan Africa30.0
MalawiSub-Saharan Africa11.1
MalaysiaAsia-Pacific18.5
MaldivesAsia-Pacific25.9
MaliSub-Saharan Africa25.0
MaltaEurope11.8
Marshall IslandsAsia-Pacific10.0
MauritaniaSub-Saharan Africa20.0
MauritiusSub-Saharan Africa12.5
MexicoAmericas35.0
MicronesiaAsia-Pacific22.2
MoldovaEurope11.1
MonacoEurope20.0
MongoliaAsia-Pacific6.7
MontenegroEurope22.2
MoroccoMiddle East/North Africa15.8
MozambiqueSub-Saharan Africa42.9
MyanmarAsia-Pacific3.9
NamibiaSub-Saharan Africa14.8
NauruAsia-Pacific14.3
NepalAsia-Pacific10.5
NetherlandsEurope44.4
New ZealandAsia-Pacific30.0
NicaraguaAmericas58.8
NigerSub-Saharan Africa12.8
NigeriaSub-Saharan Africa10.3
North KoreaAsia and the Pacific-
North MacedoniaEurope21.7
NorwayEurope42.9
OmanMiddle East/North Africa11.1
PakistanAsia-Pacific12.0
PalauAsia-Pacific25.0
PanamaAmericas31.6
Papua New GuineaAsia-Pacific0.0
ParaguayAmericas29.4
PeruAmericas55.0
PhilippinesAsia-Pacific8.6
PolandEurope17.4
PortugalEurope42.1
QatarMiddle East/North Africa7.1
Republic of CongoSub-Saharan Africa21.2
RomaniaEurope17.7
RussiaRussia/Central Asia12.9
RwandaSub-Saharan Africa53.6
Saint Kitts and NevisAmericas11.1
Saint LuciaAmericas15.4
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesAmericas0.0
SamoaAsia-Pacific16.7
San MarinoEurope10.0
Sao Tome and PrincipeSub-Saharan Africa33.3
Saudi ArabiaMiddle East/North Africa0.0
SenegalSub-Saharan Africa21.9
SerbiaEurope19.1
SeychellesSub-Saharan Africa45.5
Sierra LeoneSub-Saharan Africa17.2
SingaporeAsia-Pacific16.7
SlovakiaEurope26.7
SloveniaEurope23.5
Solomon IslandsAsia-Pacific5.0
SomaliaSub-Saharan Africa18.5
South AfricaSub-Saharan Africa48.3
South KoreaAsia-Pacific33.3
South SudanSub-Saharan Africa15.6
SpainEurope66.7
Sri LankaAsia-Pacific6.3
SudanSub-Saharan Africa20.0
SurinameAmericas17.7
SwedenEurope54.6
SwitzerlandEurope42.9
SyriaMiddle East/North Africa13.3
TaiwanAsia-Pacific-
TajikistanRussia/Central Asia5.9
TanzaniaSub-Saharan Africa21.7
ThailandAsia-Pacific0.0
TogoSub-Saharan Africa24.0
TongaAsia-Pacific8.3
Trinidad and TobagoAmericas33.3
TunisiaMiddle East/North Africa6.9
TurkeyEurope11.8
TurkmenistanRussia/Central Asia3.7
TuvaluAsia-Pacific0.0
UgandaSub-Saharan Africa33.3
UkraineEurope35.3
United Arab EmiratesMiddle East/North Africa16.7
United KingdomEurope30.4
United StatesAmericas17.4
UruguayAmericas33.3
UzbekistanRussia/Central Asia8.0
VanuatuAsia-Pacific0.0
VenezuelaAmericas23.5
VietnamAsia-Pacific0.0
YemenMiddle East/North Africa6.3
ZambiaSub-Saharan Africa32.3
ZimbabweSub-Saharan Africa20.8

On the flip side, nine countries have 0% women in their national cabinet, such as Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

The silver lining to this is that Saudi Arabia is actually improving in some areas of women’s economic rights in recent years, such as granting more freedom of movement to travel and prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis on gender.

The Most Powerful Women: Female Heads of State/Government

From Indira Gandhi to Margaret Thatcher, many women have held notable and influential leadership positions in the past, serving as tours de force for the global economy.

Presently, there are only 24 countries with a female head of state or government. Moldova’s Maia Sandu is the latest to rise into a Presidential role as of December 2020. Here’s who the rest are, and their titles.

CountryNameTitle
🇧🇩 BangladeshSheikh HasinaPrime Minister
🇧🇧 BarbadosMia MottleyPrime Minister
🇩🇰 DenmarkMette FrederiksenPrime Minister
🇪🇪 EstoniaKersti KaljulaidPresident
🇪🇪 EstoniaKaja KallasPrime Minister
🇪🇹 EthiopiaSahle-Work ZewdePresident
🇫🇮 FinlandSanna MarinPrime Minister
🇬🇦 GabonRose Christiane Ossouka RapondaPrime Minister
🇬🇪 GeorgiaSalomé ZourabichviliPresident
🇩🇪 GermanyAngela MerkelChancellor
🇬🇷 GreeceKaterina SakellaropoulouPresident
🇮🇸 IcelandKatrín JakobsdóttirPrime Minister
🇱🇹 LithuaniaIngrida ŠimonytėPrime Minister
🇲🇩 MoldovaMaia SanduPresident
🇳🇦 NamibiaSaara Kuugongelwa-AmadhilaPrime Minister
🇳🇵 NepalBidhya Devi BhandariPresident
🇳🇿 New ZealandJacinda ArdernPrime Minister
🇳🇴 NorwayErna SolbergPrime Minister
🇷🇸 SerbiaAna BrnabićPrime Minister
🇸🇬 SingaporeHalimah YacobPresident
🇸🇰 SlovakiaZuzana ČaputováPresident
🇹🇬 TogoVictoire Tomegah DogbéPrime Minister
🇹🇹 Trinidad and TobagoPaula-Mae WeekesPresident
🇹🇼 TaiwanTsai Ing-wenPresident

Last updated: Mar 2, 2021

As the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel holds the longest consecutive term of all female heads of state/government. With 15 years under her belt, Merkel is largely seen as a de facto leader of Europe. However, she intends to step down as chancellor after her term ends in September 2021.

Since 1946, Switzerland has had five total elected or appointed female heads of state or governments—the highest of any country. Simonette Sommaruga, the most recent female president of the nation, was only succeeded in the new year and dropped off this list.

Glass Ceiling in Politics?

While women have made strides in reaching their political potential worldwide, it’s interesting to note that they generally have a harder time ascending to office in larger countries compared to smaller economies.

For example, Estonia is the first country to have two female heads of state/government with both the president and prime minister positions being filled by women. On the flipside, many other countries have never had even one female head of state.

That said, shares of women holding seats in national legislatures are growing worldwide, which means that progress in these upper levels may be just around the corner.

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.”
—Michelle Obama

 

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Business

How Powerful is Your Passport in a Post-Pandemic World?

Ranking the the world’s most powerful passports based on access to visa-free destinations. Where does your country fall on the list?

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How Powerful is Your Passport in a Post-Pandemic World?

With COVID-19 cases falling in many parts of the world and vaccination programs ramping up at warp speed, international travel no longer seems like a distant dream.

The Henley Passport Index, which has been regularly monitoring the world’s most travel-friendly passports since 2006, has released its latest rankings and analysis.

The most recent data provides insight into what travel freedom will look like in a post-pandemic world as countries selectively begin to open their borders to international visitors.

Prominent Countries Still Holding Strong

The rankings are based on the visa-free score of a particular country. A visa-free score refers to the number of countries that a passport holder can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival, or by obtaining an electronic travel authorization (ETA).

Without considering the constantly changing COVID-19 restrictions, Japan firmly holds its position as the country with the strongest passport for the 4th year in a row.

This positioning is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)—with Japanese passport holders theoretically able to access a record 193 destinations from around the world visa-free.

The last time Japan didn’t hold the number one position was back in 2017, when it shared the 5th spot with countries like the United States, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

Rank (2021)CountryVisa-Free Score (2021)Rank (2011)Visa-Free Score (2011)
1🇯🇵 Japan1934170
2🇸🇬 Singapore1929164
3🇩🇪 Germany1912172
3🇰🇷 South Korea19110163
4🇫🇮 Finland1901173
4🇮🇹 Italy1903171
4🇱🇺 Luxembourg1903171
4🇪🇸 Spain1904170
5🇦🇹 Austria1896168
5🇩🇰 Denmark1891173

Singapore remains in 2nd place, with a visa-free score of 192, while Germany and South Korea again share joint-3rd place, each with access to 191 destinations.

Throughout the 16-year history of the Henley Index, EU countries have maintained a dominant position in the passport strength reports. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain all hold the 4th position while Austria and Denmark round up the top 5 with a visa-free score of 189.

CountryRank (2011)Rank (2021)Difference
🇺🇸 United States57-2
🇨🇦 Canada990
🇲🇽 Mexico29236
🇬🇧 United Kingdom37-4
🇧🇷 Brazil25178

The United States and the United Kingdom jointly share the 7th position with a visa-free score of 187 destinations. Canada, Mexico and Brazil hold the 9th, 23rd and 17th positions respectively, with Brazil experiencing a significant jump of eight places over the last 10 years.

Editor’s note: Visit the Henley Passport Index site for a full list and ranking of all countries around the world.

The Countries With The Least Travel Freedom

Afghanistan continues to be the country with the least amount of travel freedom, coming in last place (110th rank) with a visa-free score of 26 destinations. Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen have access to slightly more visa-free travel, but still linger at the bottom of the overall ranking.

Rank (2021)CountryVisa-Free Score (2021)Rank (2011)Visa-Free Score (2011)
110🇦🇫 Afghanistan2610124
109🇮🇶 Iraq2810028
108🇸🇾 Syria299337
107🇵🇰 Pakistan329931
106🇾🇪 Yemen339139

The latest report indicates that the gap in travel freedom is now at its largest since the index began in 2006. Japanese passport holders can access 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who can visit only 26.

The Biggest Gainers In a Decade

Over time, small annual moves in the Henley Passport Index can make a big impact—and in the last decade, countries like China and the UAE have been the biggest movers:

China has risen by 22 places in the ranking since 2011 by going from a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 40 destinations to now 77.

The most remarkable turnaround story on the index by far, however, is the UAE. In 2011, the UAE was ranked 65th with a visa-free score of 67 destinations. Today, thanks to the Emirates’ ongoing efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties with countries across the globe, it is now ranked 15th with a remarkable visa-free score of 174 destinations.

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Politics

Mapped: The World’s Top Countries for Military Spending

Global military spending is now at a 32-year high. We show countries’ military spending by dollars and as a portion of GDP.

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Mapped: The World’s Top Countries for Military Spending

By practically any measure, the world today is more peaceful and less war-torn on a global scale, relative to the past.

For instance, declarations of war between nations and soldier casualties have both dropped drastically since the 20th century. Yet, military spending has not followed this trend.

The Top 10 Military Spenders

According to SIPRI, global military spend reached almost $2 trillion in 2020. The top 10 countries represent roughly 75% of this figure, and have increased their spending by $51 billion since the year prior.

Here’s how the worlds top 10 military spenders compare to each other:

RankCountryMilitary Spend 2020 ($B)% ChangeMilitary Spend 2019 ($B)
#1🇺🇸 United States $778.0+6.2%$732.0
#2🇨🇳 China$252.0-3.4%$261.0
#3🇮🇳 India$72.9+2.5%$71.1
#4🇷🇺 Russia$61.7-5.2%$65.1
#5🇬🇧 United Kingdom$59.2+21.5%$48.7
#6🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia$57.5-7.1%$61.9
#7🇩🇪 Germany$52.8+7.1%$61.9
#8🇫🇷 France$52.7+5.1%$50.1
#9🇯🇵 Japan$49.1+3.1%$47.6
#10🇰🇷 South Korea$45.7+4.1%$43.9
Total$1,481.6+3.5%$1,430.7

The U.S. isn’t labeled as a global superpower for nothing. The country is by far the largest military spender, and its $778 billion budget trumps the remainder of the list’s collective $703.6 billion. On its own, the U.S. represents just under 40% of global military spending.

This year, Saudi Arabia has lost out on a top five seat to the UK, after a 7.1% decline in spending compared to a 21.5% increase for the UK.

Military Spend as a Percentage of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP can be used to compare military spending relative to the size of a country’s economy.

Military Spend as a Share of GDP

Click here to view a high-resolution version of this image.

When looking at things this way, many of the top spenders above do not appear. This may be an indication of their economic prowess or a demonstration that the money might be used for other vital areas such as education, healthcare, or infrastructure.

RankCountryRegionSpend as a % of GDP (2020)
#1🇴🇲 OmanMiddle East11.0%
#2🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaMiddle East8.4%
#3🇩🇿 AlgeriaNorth Africa6.7%
#4🇰🇼 KuwaitMiddle East6.5%
#5🇮🇱 IsraelMiddle East5.6%
#6🇷🇺 RussiaEurope/Asia4.3%
#7🇲🇦 MoroccoNorth Africa4.3%
#8🇮🇶 IraqMiddle East4.1%
#9🇺🇦 UkraineEurope4.1%
#10🇵🇰 PakistanSouth Asia4.0%

It’s pretty rare for countries to reach double digits for military spending as a percentage of GDP. In this case, Oman is an outlier, as the Middle Eastern country’s spending relative to GDP grew from 8.8% last year, to 11% in 2020.

Many of the countries with the highest military spending to GDP are located in the Middle East—a reflection of the escalating conflicts that have persisted in the region for well over two decades.

It’s worth noting that some data for the Middle Eastern region are estimates, due to the aforementioned regional instability.

More Spending to Come?

Global military spending figures are at a 32-year high, despite the pandemic’s effect on shrinking economic output.

World Military Spend 1988-2020

Although a major war hasn’t occurred in some time, it’s not to say the geopolitical mood hasn’t been tense.

The last 12 months or so have witnessed some nail-biting moments including:

  • Border disputes between China and India
  • Heightening tensions between China and Taiwan
  • Russia’s military presence in eastern Ukraine
  • The hacking of SolarWinds, a Texas-based company, by Russia
  • The ongoing Yemen crisis
  • An Israel-Iran feud

Will 2021 extend the trend of peace, or will rising military spending mean even higher tensions?

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