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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

The Start of De-Dollarization: China’s Gradual Move Away from the USD

The de-dollarization of China’s trade settlements has begun. What patterns do we see in USD and RMB use within China and globally?

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An area chart illustrating the de-dollarization of China’s trade settlements.

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The following content is sponsored by The Hinrich Foundation

The Start of De-Dollarization: China’s Move Away from the USD

Since 2010, the majority of China’s cross-border payments, like those of many countries, have been settled in U.S. dollars (USD). As of the first quarter of 2023, that’s no longer the case.

This graphic from the Hinrich Foundation, the second in a three-part series covering the future of trade, provides visual context to the growing use of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) in payments both domestically and globally.  

The De-Dollarization of China’s Cross-Border Transactions

This analysis uses Bloomberg data on the share of China’s payments and receipts in RMB, USD, and other currencies from 2010 to 2024. 

In the first few months of 2010, settlements in local currency accounted for less than 1.0% of China’s cross-border payments, compared to approximately 83.0% in USD. 

China has since closed that gap. In March 2023, the share of the RMB in China’s settlements surpassed the USD for the first time.

DateRenminbiU.S. DollarOther
March 20100.3%84.3%15.4%
March 20114.8%81.3%13.9%
March 201211.5%77.1%11.5%
March 201318.1%72.7%9.2%
March 201426.6%64.8%8.6%
March 201529.0%61.9%9.0%
March 201623.6%66.7%9.7%
March 201717.6%72.5%9.9%
March 201823.2%67.4%9.4%
March 201926.2%65.1%8.7%
March 202039.3%54.4%6.3%
March 202141.7%52.6%5.6%
March 202242.1%53.3%4.7%
March 202348.4%46.7%4.9%
March 202452.9%42.8%4.3%

Source: Bloomberg (2024)

Since then, the de-dollarization in Chinese international settlements has continued.  

As of March 2024, over half (52.9%) of Chinese payments were settled in RMB while 42.8% were settled in USD. This is double the share from five years previous. According to Goldman Sachs, foreigners’ increased willingness to trade assets denominated in RMB significantly contributed to de-dollarization in favor of China’s currency. Also, early last year, Brazil and Argentina announced that they would begin allowing trade settlements in RMB. 

Most Popular Currencies in Foreign Exchange (FX) Transactions

Globally, analysis from the Bank for International Settlements reveals that, in 2022, the USD remained the most-used currency for FX settlements. The euro and the Japanese yen came in second and third, respectively.

Currency20132022Change (pp)
U.S. Dollar87.0%88.5%+1.5
Euro33.4%30.5%-2.9
Yen23.0%16.7%-6.3
Pound Sterling11.8%12.9%+1.1
Renminbi2.2%7.0%+4.8
Other42.6%44.4%+1.8
Total200.0%200.0%

Source: BIS Triennial Central Bank Survey (2022). Because two currencies are involved in each transaction, the sum of the percentage shares of individual currencies totals 200% instead of 100%.

The Chinese renminbi, though accounting for a relatively small share of FX transactions, gained the most ground over the last decade. Meanwhile, the euro and the yen saw decreases in use. 

The Future of De-Dollarization

If the RMB’s global rise continues, the stranglehold of the USD on international trade could diminish over time.  

The impacts of declining dollar dominance are complex and uncertain, but they could range from the underperformance of U.S. financial assets to diminished power of Western sanctions.

However, though the prevalence of RMB in international payments could rise, a complete de-dollarization of the world economy in the near- or medium-term is unlikely. China’s strict capital controls that limit the availability of RMB outside the country, and the nation’s sputtering economic growth, are key reasons contributing to this.

The third piece in this series will explore Russia’s shifting trading patterns following its invasion of Ukraine.

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Visit the Hinrich Foundation to learn more about the future of geopolitical trade

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