By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 23, 2015
Only two of the 190 ranked countries in the world have greater than 50% women in their lower or single House, based on the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s research. The IPU’s ranking is a great resource that allows people to see how their country ranks in women’s representation relative to other countries.
Unfortunately, the IPU numeric ranking is misleading. Here’s why: the ranking groups countries that tie as sharing one ranking. For example, Iceland is ranked 11th, according to the new IPU ranking, tied with Namibia and Nicaragua. Following those three countries is Spain, ranked at 12th. A common understanding of ranking 12th globally is that only 11 countries would be ranked higher. That isn’t the case. In fact, 13 countries are ranked higher than Spain. This means an accurate ranking for Spain is 14th in the world. The IPU ranking puts the United States at 76th, but in reality 95 countries rank higher which places the United States at 96th.
IPU’s chart and research is crucial to understanding women’s representation globally and so it is very important that the data be presented in a logical manner that allows us to make meaningful comparisons over time. We recommend IPU add a column that clarifies the actual rank of countries—as we created an example of below in green.
Representation2020, a program of FairVote, is committed to reaching gender parity in all levels of government in the United States. Our recent report argues that the United States is unlikely to reach parity, ever, without structural changes to our recruitment, voting, and legislating process.