Mapped: Where Women Hold the Most and Least Political Power
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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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Politics

A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)

This year marks 100 years since the birth of the Soviet Union. How have countries in and near Europe aligned themselves over the last century?

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the ussr and the eu

Timeline: A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)

On February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine launching one of the biggest wars on European soil since World War II. The invasion reflects a longstanding belief of Russia’s that Ukraine—and much of the Soviet Union’s former republics and satellite states—is still their territory to claim. But what is the “former glory” of Russia?

Of the USSR’s former republics and satellite states, many have moved on to join the European Union, and in Putin’s eyes have become more “Westernized” and further from Russian values. In fact, Ukraine recently had its candidacy status approved with the EU.

It’s now been a full century since the formation of the USSR. Much has changed since then, and this visual timeline breaks down how countries within and near Europe have aligned themselves over those 100 years.

ℹ️ In the above visual, Soviet satellite states are not shown as a part of the USSR, as they were never formal republics. Candidate countries still in process to join the EU are not shown.

The USSR / Soviet Union

The Soviet Union—officially titled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)—was formed 100 years ago in 1922 and was dissolved in 1991 almost 70 years later. At its height it was home to 15 republics, over 286 million people, and stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Ukraine, with virtual control and influence in countries as far west as East Germany.

Notable leaders characterized both the rise and fall of the USSR, starting with its establishment under Vladimir Lenin until the union’s dissolution under Mikhail Gorbachev. Latvia and Lithuania were among the first republics to make the move for sovereignty, beginning the demise of the Soviet Union.

Here’s a look at which modern day countries were a part of the USSR.

Modern Day CountryName Under USSRDate JoinedDate Gained Independence
🇬🇪 GeorgiaGeorgian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇺🇦 UkraineUkrainian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇦🇲 ArmeniaArmenian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇦🇿 AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇧🇾 BelarusByelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇷🇺 RussiaRussian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic19221991
🇺🇿 UzbekistanUzbek Soviet Socialist Republic19241991
🇹🇲 TurkmenistanTurkmen Soviet Socialist Republic19241991
🇹🇯 TajikistanTajik Soviet Socialist Republic19291991
🇰🇬 KyrgyzstanKirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic19361991
🇰🇿 KazakhstanKazakh Soviet Socialist Republic19361991
🇱🇹 Lithuania Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic19401990
🇪🇪 EstoniaEstonian Soviet Socialist Republic19401991
🇱🇻 LatviaLatvian Soviet Socialist Republic19401990
🇲🇩 MoldovaMoldavian Soviet Socialist Republic19401991

Additionally, there were multiple satellite states, which were not formally joined with the USSR, but operated under intense Soviet influence.

Modern Day Country Country Name at the Time
🇦🇱 AlbaniaPeople's Republic of Albania
🇵🇱 PolandPolish People's Republic
🇧🇬 BulgariaPeople's Republic of Bulgaria
🇷🇴 RomaniaRomanian People's Republic
🇨🇿 CzechiaCzechoslovak Socialist Republic
🇸🇰 SlovakiaCzechoslovak Socialist Republic
🇩🇪 Germany East Germany (German Democratic Republic)
🇭🇺 HungaryHungarian People's Republic
🇸🇮 SloveniaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇭🇷 CroatiaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇷🇸 SerbiaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇧🇦 Bosnia & HerzegovinaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇲🇪 MontenegroFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇲🇰 North MacedoniaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇲🇳 MongoliaMongolian People's Republic

Today, there are still some countries that align themselves with Putin and Russia over the EU.

Belarus, sometimes called Europe’s “last dictatorship”, shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia and facilitated the entry of Russian soldiers into Ukraine. Furthermore, according to the Pentagon, Russian missiles have been launched from Belarus.

The European Union

The European Union was officially formed in 1993 and has 27 member states. Some former USSR republics are now a part of the union including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The most recent member to join was Croatia in 2013.

The EU has its roots in the European Coal & Steel Community which was formed in 1952 with Italy, France, West Germany and a few other countries comprising its first members. There are currently six candidate countries on track to join the EU — all but one were either former Soviet satellite states or formal republics:

  • 🇦🇱 Albania
  • 🇲🇪 Montenegro
  • 🇲🇰 North Macedonia
  • 🇷🇸 Serbia
  • 🇹🇷 Turkey
  • 🇺🇦 Ukraine
  • 🇲🇩 Moldova

There are many reasons countries opt to join the EU: a common currency, easier movement of goods and people between national borders, and, of course, military protection.

However, in 2020 the UK formally left the union, making it the first country in history to do so. Here’s a look at every EU member state.

EU Member StatesYear JoinedFormer USSR Republic?Former USSR Satellite State?
🇦🇹 Austria1995NoNo
🇧🇪 Belgium1952NoNo
🇧🇬 Bulgaria2007NoYes
🇭🇷 Croatia2013NoYes
🇨🇾 Cyprus2004NoNo
🇨🇿 Czechia2004NoYes
🇩🇰 Denmark1973NoNo
🇪🇪 Estonia2004Yes--
🇫🇮 Finland1995NoNo
🇫🇷 France1952NoNo
🇩🇪 Germany1952NoYes (East Germany)
🇬🇷 Greece1981NoNo
🇭🇺 Hungary2004NoYes
🇮🇪 Ireland1973NoNo
🇮🇹 Italy1952NoNo
🇱🇻 Latvia2004Yes--
🇱🇹 Lithuania2004Yes--
🇱🇺 Luxembourg1952NoNo
🇲🇹 Malta2004NoNo
🇳🇱 Netherlands1952NoNo
🇵🇱 Poland2004NoYes
🇵🇹 Portugal1986NoNo
🇷🇴 Romania2007NoYes
🇸🇰 Slovakia2004NoYes
🇸🇮 Slovenia2004NoYes
🇪🇸 Spain1986NoNo
🇸🇪 Sweden1995NoNo

Ukraine’s Outlook

The iron curtain that was draped across Europe, which used to divide the continent politically and ideologically, has since been drawn back. But the war in Ukraine is a threat to many in Europe, and countries such as Poland have voiced fears about the spillover of conflict.

In late June, the European Council approved Ukraine’s bid for expedited candidacy to the EU, but the process will still likely be lengthy—for example, it took Croatia 10 years to formally join at the normal pace.

Beyond other needs such as military support, joining the union would allow refugees from Ukraine the freedom to migrate and work in other EU countries with ease.

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Misc

Missing Migrants: Visualizing Lost Lives Along the Mediterranean Sea

Each year, thousands of migrants take the journey along the Eastern Mediterranean to get to the EU. Some never make it to their destination.

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Map of Missing Migrants along the Eastern Mediterranean

Missing Migrants: Lost Lives Along the Mediterranean Sea

Each year, thousands of migrants flee war-torn countries in search of asylum.

Even before the migrant crisis caused by the Russo-Ukrainian War, Europe has been the focal point in the past decade. Many refugees from conflicts in Africa and Asia, including those from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and have traveled to Europe along the Eastern Mediterranean migration route—a dangerous passage across the Aegean Sea that weaves along the coastlines of Greece and Turkey.

The journey to reach Europe is risky, and some of the migrants who attempt the crossing never make it. Using data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), this map by Elbie Bentley visualizes the reported deaths and disappearances along the Eastern Mediterranean from 2014 to 2021.

Inspired by Levi Westerveld’s Those Who Did Not Cross, each lost life is captured with its own dot, in an effort to humanize the data.

The 2015 European Crisis

1,863 deaths and disappearances were reported along the Eastern Mediterranean between the years of 2014 and 2021.

Almost half of those recordings came from 2015 during the European migrant crisis, when a record-breaking one million people sought asylum in the EU.

About 800,000 of the one million migrants traveled to Greece through Turkey, with many of the refugees escaping Syria’s civil war.

European Migrant Crisis by YearReported deaths and disappearances
2014101
2015804
2016434
201762
2018174
201971
2020106
2021111

In an attempt to control the situation, the EU and Turkey signed a migration deal in March 2016 that agreed to send back migrants who did not receive official permission to enter the EU.

Though the agreement drastically reduced the number of people traveling through Turkey to Greece, thousands still make the dangerous journey across the Aegean Sea each year. In 2021, 111 people were reported dead or missing along the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Dangerous Journey

According to the International Organization for Migration, the most common cause of death along the Eastern Mediterranean is drowning.

While the journey is only 5.4 nautical miles or less, transportation conditions to Greece are not always safe. Boats are sometimes forced into tumultuous waters, according to migrants who’ve experienced the journey firsthand.

And these boats are often severely underequipped and overcrowded—rubber dinghies designed to carry a dozen people are sometimes loaded with up to 60 passengers.

Safer means of transportation are available, but the costs are steep. According to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, it could cost a family an average of €10,000 to travel by yacht.

Rescue Efforts for Migrants is Needed

Further complicating the dangerous journey is a lack of rescue resources.

According to a 2021 report by IOM, the EU does not currently have a dedicated search and rescue team. Instead, the onus is on individual states to patrol their own waters.

Until the crisis is better addressed or local conflicts begin to resolve, there will be an urgent need for increased rescue operations and a standardized migration protocol to help mitigate the number of migrant deaths and disappearances each year.

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