While women have the legal right to equal participation in politics in almost every country around the world, they remain vastly underrepresented in local and national politics. As of July 2006, women accounted for only 17% of parliamentarians worldwide, and a woman headed the government in only seven countries (UNICEF, 2007). These numbers vary dramatically by region. In 2004, the highest share of female parliamentarians was found in the Nordic countries (39.7%), while the lowest was in the Arab States (6%).1 Can public policy alter this? Over a hundred countries around the world have introduced some sort of affirmative action policies for women in public office (Dahlerup, 2006).
Beaman, Lori, Raghab Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, and Petia Topalova. "Can Political Affirmative Action for Women Reduce Gender Bias?" Vox, January 8, 2009.