Eight Women Around the World



Being a Woman in Politics


Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Ellen Johnson-SirleafPrime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir


Over the past 10 years political participation by women has increased in nearly every region of the world. Many experts attribute the dramatic increase in participation to the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. At this conference in Beijing, China delegates from around the world gathered to discuss ways by which to take action so as to provide equality to women in all sectors of life. A large part of the conference was devoted to creating equal empowerment opportunities for women. After the conference, many countries took action, and as a result there are currently 18 female heads of state in the world.


However, not all of the goals set at the Beijing conference have been met. Political participation has increased, there is no denying that, but the significance that women in politics has is quite different country by country. According to Stephanie Hanes of the Christian Monitor, this is because the influence that different branches of government have is different throughout the world. For instance, the executive branch’s role – and thus the President’s role – in the government is much larger in the United States compared to Ireland, so the fact that Ireland has a female president, Mary McAleese, is not as momentous as it would be if the United States had a female president. While there is still room for improvement, the general consensus is that women political participation and equality is improving and will continue to do so.



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