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It’s official: Australian women are under represented in Australian parliaments.

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Date: 10 July 2014

Research undertaken by Dr Joy McCann and Janet Wilson, on behalf of the Department of Parliamentary Services, confirms that across Australia, women continue to be significantly under-represented in parliament and executive government. Women comprise less than one-third of all parliamentarians and one-fifth of all ministers.

Released on 9 July 2014 as part of the Parliamentary Library of Australia’s Research Paper Series, the Representation of women in Australian parliaments 2014 report shows that, compared with other countries, the representation of Australian women in national government is in decline. The number hovers around 30%, the figure regarded by the United Nations to be the minimum number necessary for women to influence parliamentary decision making.

Around one in five parliamentarians across the world are women. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) data on 188 countries as at 1 April 2014, women comprise 21.9 per cent of all parliamentarians in national parliaments. Of these, 38 countries exceed 30 per cent female representation in the lower or single House.

The IPU’s historical data indicates Australia’s ranking for women in the Commonwealth Parliament has significantly declined over the past decade when compared with national parliaments globally, dropping from 20th place in 2001 to 44th in 2013.

In their executive summary, McCann and Wilson note:

There is no consensus amongst researchers in the field as to why women continue to be under-represented in Australia’s system of parliamentary democracy, although a number of factors contribute to the gender imbalance. This paper includes discussion of some of the structural, social and cultural factors influencing women’s representation including the type of electoral system, the culture of political parties, and the nature of politics and the parliamentary environment in Australia.

Read Representation of women in Australian parliaments 2014

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