Women’s political participation

Gender equality and women’s empowerment remain critical development issues in many countries worldwide. Achieving women’s representation in elected institutions in equal proportion to men is essential to establishing the credibility and legitimacy of parliaments, national assemblies, and local governments. However, even though women comprise half of the world’s population, they only make up about 20 percent of parliamentarian representation.

UNDP works with governments worldwide to combat discriminatory legislation and policies and improve gender equality outcomes in policymaking by creating structures and strategic plans to enhance women’s political participation and gender equality. UNDP has facilitated the creation of such systems in many countries, recognizing their essential role in empowering women as parliamentary representatives, supporting the emergence of gender-sensitive parliaments, and adopting gender-sensitive policy and legislative frameworks.

It is a challenging environment where barriers to women’s participation in governance, including patriarchal gender norms, continue to exist. In contexts of closing democratic space and a backlash against gender equality, UNDP is well positioned with its knowledge of the political context and the breadth of its programming to respond smartly to ensure that programming and policy advice builds on astute political analysis. UNDP seeks to increase the number of countries with strategies/programmes/initiatives to advance women’s political participation in the electoral process and prevent violence against women in politics. It also works to introduce initiatives at the local level that strengthen dialogue mechanisms and enhance policy spaces to enable gender equality advocates and civil society to promote gender equality and women’s political participation.

  • Established in 2007, iKNOW Politics is a joint project of UNDP, International IDEA, the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).  For more information, visit the iKNOW Politics website.
  • Please also read our Gender Equality Strategy for 2022-2025.


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