Gender, Women and Democracy
Gender, Women and Democracy


"Development without democracy is improbable. Democracy without women is impossible." - Madeleine K. Albright

Women have made significant strides in girls’ education, maternal health and labor force participation – and in politics as well. In the past 20 years, women have doubled their global numbers in parliaments, from 11 to 22 percent. Seventeen percent of ministers globally are women, and in 2015, there were 18 women as heads of state or government.

Women’s participation in politics is socially transformative. Research shows that women in politics raise issues that others overlook, pass bills that others oppose, invest in projects others dismiss and seek to end abuses that others ignore. Where women are able to participate in peace processes, the chances of reaching an agreement at all improve, and the peace is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years. Yet women face many barriers to their political participation. At current rates of progress, political parity will not be reached until 2080, making equality in politics the highest hurdle women face.

NDI puts these barriers into three categories. At the individual level, women who are equally as qualified as men talk themselves out of running for office. At the institutional level, political bodies – like parties and legislatures – remain unwelcoming to female colleagues. At the socio-cultural level, mass media – for example – tends to focus on what a woman wears, her marital status or her voice, as opposed to her policy positions.

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News and Publications


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NDI's work upholds the idea that democracy is a human right – a principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But it's a human right that many around the world still struggle to attain. You can be part of the solution. Join the movement for democracy.

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