ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Country Has the Most Women in Government?

Updated on January 9, 2016
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

Source

Does the majority get represented in most countries?

Saudi Arabia, the most restrictive nation on the planet as far as women’s rights is concerned, just elected 20 women to their local governing bodies, the highest level at which they are allowed to seek office. The argument could be made that is a baby step towards equality for women in that country. Twenty out of a population of 30.8 million. Baby steps.

America is known as the leader of the free world with a population of 320 million, 51 percent of whom are women. So how are our numbers?

At the highest level that women in America currently hold office there are 84 women in the House of Representatives and 20 in the Senate. Only 104 women out of a population of 320 million. Yes, women sit on boards of education, city councils, county commissions, and state legislatures and executive offices. But at the highest level in the most free nation on the planet - 104 out of 320 million?

That number doesn't quite put us at the top of the worldwide list for the percentage of female representation in government based on a nation's population. We’re not number two either. We’re even not in the top ten. We are number 72. Saudi Arabia is number 70. The country where women are most free (supposedly) and the country where they are the least free (by all empirical evidence) are separated on the list by only two other countries: Greece and Kenya. The top 10 countries on the list are:

1. Rwanda

2. Bolivia

3. Cuba

4. Seychelles

5. Sweden

6. Senegal

7. Mexico

8. South Africa

9. Equador

10. Finland

The entire list of countries and statistics is available at the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Source

The last nation to give women the vote:

This December in Saudi Arabia, 20 female candidates were elected to the approximately 2,100 municipal council seats. Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi (Salma, daughter of Hizab of the Oteibi tribe) became the first elected female politician in Saudi Arabia, elected to serve on the council in Madrakah in the Mecca province. Incidentally, Mecca is the site of the holiest mosque in the Islam religion.

These councils have only local responsibilities such as garbage removal and street maintenance in their communities. The Kingdom is under the sovereign rule of the al-Saud tribe. But in this historic election, voter turnout was approximately 47 percent. Those voters chose two thirds of the seats in 284 councils throughout the kingdom. Some 131,000 women and about 1.35 million men had registered to vote in these elections. Many of the 978 women who attempted to register as candidates were deemed ineligible by authorities. No reason was required, but many of those candidates were well-known advocates for the expansion of women’s rights.

Once successfully registered to run for office in the last country on earth to grant women the right to vote, female candidates faced challenges unheard of in America. They could not drive, so they needed a male relative to drive them both to register and to campaign - even to vote. In fact, all the women who voted in these elections needed a male relative to drive them to the polls. As all females in Saudi, the candidates had to cover their faces in public. They could not directly speak to male voters. At campaign rallies they either had to speak from behind a partition or have a man read their speech for them. Photographs of candidates, male or female, were prohibited. And the campaign only lasted 12 days.

And it was not like elections were an established practice. The first local election in Saudi Arabia was in 2005. Another was held in 2011. Women were neither on the ballot or allowed to vote in those two elections.

First Congresswoman elected before women even had the vote.

Source

Well . . technically


Rebecca Latimer Felton represented the state of Georgia as senator and became the first woman to do so for any state in the union. But her term lasted exactly one day.

When Senator Thomas E. Watson died on September 26, 1922, Governor Thomas Hardwick took the time-honored step of appointing a replacement to serve until a special election could be held. However, Watson died while the senate was not in session, and the special election would be held before the next session began. The governor knew the person he appointed would not actually serve, but as the incumbent that person would stand the best chance of winning the special election. And the thing was: he wanted to win that election himself.

So he appointed someone he knew would never win an election to be a senator from the great state of Georgia (or in 1923 from any other state in the union.) He appointed 87-year-old Mrs. Felton, improving his chances of winning and hopefully placating Georgia's brand new female voters. He had opposed passage of the 19th amendment.

In spite of the governor's savvy political maneuvers, two weeks later Hardwick lost the special election to Georgia Supreme Court Judge Walter F. George. In the spirit of southern gentlemanliness, George allowed Felton to present her credentials on the first day of the new session and be sworn in as senator. The next morning she resigned, saying that the women who followed her would serve with "ability, integrity of purpose and unstinted usefulness." Almost a decade later, that woman was Hattie Caraway of Arkansas who became the first woman to win election to the Senate in 1932.


You've still got a long way to go, Baby.

,Since the beginning of the 20th Century 170 countries have had a female head of state, including the United Kingdom, Germany and Israel. America has yet to have a woman at the top of the ticket from a major political party. (Five have run as third party candidates.)

So when was the first woman elected to Congress in America? Jeannette Pickering Rankin was elected in 1916 to the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Montana. That was four years before women in America had the right to vote. In fact Rankin campaigned on a constitutional women’s suffrage amendment. Rebecca Felton of Georgia became the first senator in 1922 (see sidebar).

Rankin’s legally election into Congress was delayed a month as her fellow congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted. The day she was allowed to take her seat, April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked a joint session of Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. Rankin was one of only 50 representatives to vote against the declaration. She was the only dissenting vote when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan on December 7, 1941. Such a furor resulted that she did not seek reelection.

Since Rankin's service, 313 women have been elected to Congress as representatives or senators. Today the largest and most diverse group of women, 134, equal 58 percent of all the women who have ever been elected to the legislative branch of our federal government. They have created a Congresswomen’s Caucus to promote legislation that is important to women. They have had one of their members rise to the role of speaker of the house and have had one on the ballot for vice president. A female governor has also been on the ballot below the name of the male presidential nominee. That is as far as we, as a majority in America, have come. To rewrite a popular phrase from the 1970s, and you still have a long way to go, Baby, without the hindrances many of your sisters deal with in other parts of the world.


History, Art and Archives

History of the House

Women in Congress, 1917–2006

al Jazeera America

Inter-Parliamentary Union

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I think it is interesting how many views this hub has and how few comments. I guess it's hard to absorb the fact that the U.S., which has always had a population that is majority female, is so far behind the rest of the world in this area. Makes me wonder, if we closed this gap in representation, how many other gaps would be close in our nation?

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for the comment. I'd say some countries have further to go than others. The US is now back in the hands of old, white men. Seems we are going backwards. I initially wrote this hub to light a fire under us.

    • bodylevive profile image

      BODYLEVIVE 

      19 months ago from Alabama, USA

      For one thing, all nations have a long way to go as women in politics are concerned. I give all women a round of applause for stepping in to politics!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)