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Women in government in the modern era are under-represented in most countries worldwide, in contrast to men.

However, women are increasingly being politically elected to be heads of state and government. More than 20 countries currently have a woman holding office as the head of a national government, and the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is nearly 20%. A number of countries are exploring measures that may increase women's participation in government at all levels, from the local to the national. Gender inequality within families, inequitable division of labor within households, and cultural attitudes [1] about gender roles further subjugate women and serve to limit their representation in public life. Societies [4] that are highly patriarchal often have local power structures that make it difficult for women to combat. Thus, their interests are often not represented. Even once elected, women tend to hold lesser valued cabinet ministries or similar positions. These are described as “soft industries” and include health, education, and welfare. Rarely do women hold executive decision-making authority in more powerful domains or those that are associated with traditional notions of masculinity (such as finance and the military). Typically, the more powerful the institution, the less likely it is that women’s interests will be represented. Additionally, in more autocratic nations, women are less likely to [4] have their interests represented. Many women attain political standing due to kinship ties, as they have [3] male family members who are involved in politics. These women tend to be from higher income, higher status families and thus may not be as focused on the issues faced by lower income families. Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Quebecois (PQ) and the official opposition of the National Assembly of Quebec, was the subject of a claim by Claude Pinard, a PQ "backbencher", that many Quebecers do not support a female politician: "I believe that one of her serious handicaps is the fact she's a woman [...] I sincerely believe that a good segment of the population won't support her because she's a woman"

Women in national parliaments
Out of 189 countries, listed in descending order by the percentage of women in the lower or single house, the top 10 countries with the greatest representation of women in national parliaments are (figures reflect [9] information as of March 31, 2012):



Lower or Single House Upper House or Senate





















women's suffrage does not exist. Current women leaders of national governments The following women leaders are currently in office as the either the head of their nation's government or the head of state (as of May 2012): Date term began Title of office Name Country 22.7% - The major English-speaking democracies are placed mostly in the top 40% of the ranked countries. 39% upper house) rank at position 40 out of 189 countries.3% lower house. It should be noted that not all of these lower and/or upper houses in national parliaments are democratically elected.11. The United Kingdom is ranked at 55 (22. for example.3% - 10 Iceland 39. In a small number of countries.6 Finland 42.01.5% - 7 South Africa 42.7% in the lower house.2% of its parliament.0% in the upper house). Australia (24.2006 President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Liberia 25.9% upper house).7% lower house.12.7% 27% 9 Nicaragua 40. 17. 21.2007 President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner Argentina .07. in Canada members of the upper house (the Senate) are appointed.2005 Chancellor Angela Merkel Germany 16. New Zealand ranks at position 23 with women comprising 32.2007 President Pratibha Patil India 10.9% in the lower house. 29% in the upper house) and Canada (24. and therefore there is a 0% representation of women in the national government.3% 17% 8 Netherlands 40. while the [9] United States ranks 78 (16. for example Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Thailand 03.2009 Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir Iceland Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt Denmark 01.03.2012 President Eveline Widmer- Switzerland .2010 Premier Paula A.2009 President Dalia Grybauskaitė Lithuania 08.2010 Prime Minister Kamla PersadBissessar Trinidad and Tobago 24.2010 Prime Minister Julia Gillard Australia 10.01.2011 Executive President Dilma Rousseff Brazil Leader of the Government Antonella Mularoni San Marino 06.2010 President Laura Chinchilla Miranda Costa Rica 26.2011 President Atifete Jahjaga Kosovo 08.01.2009 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed Bangladesh 01.10.2010 Prime Minister Sarah Wescott-Williams Sint Maarten (Self-governing Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) 29. Cox Bermuda (British Dependent Territory) 01.10.01.

01.2012 President Joyce Banda Malawi .Schlumpf 05.2012 Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller Jamaica 07.04.