Taking stock of progress on gender equality using the Global State of Democracy Indices: Twenty-five years since the Beijing World Conference on Women

GSoD In Focus No. 10
This publication is only available in electronic format
6 March 2020
  • Since 1995, the world has made important strides in advancing gender equality. The increase in female representation in parliaments across the globe has been driving these advances, although there has been some progress on other indicators used to measure Gender Equality in the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Indices.
  • Democracies provide better guarantees for gender equality. Out of 29 countries that scored highly in the GSoD Indices on Gender Equality in 2018, 28 of them are democracies.
  • There are wide regional variations in Gender Equality, with North America and Europe seeing the highest scores, and the Middle East the lowest. However, the greatest progress over the 25-year period has been achieved in Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The representation of women in parliament is considerably better today than 25 years ago. The world average has increased from 10 per cent in 1995 to 23 per cent in 2018 (and 24 per cent in 2019). The percentage of women legislators is highest in Latin America and the Caribbean (28 per cent), and lowest in the Middle East (11 per cent).
  • Despite progress made to date, at the current rate it will take another 46 years to reach gender parity in all parliaments.
  • Civic space is shrinking across all regions of the world and across all levels of democratic performance. The shrinking of civic space has had severe effects on women’s participation in civil society, as women’s organizations tend to be the most vulnerable, the least well-resourced and the least networked.
  • Over the 25-year period since 1995, the global average of women’s participation in civil society organizations has seen very slow improvement. While the Middle East is the lowest performer, North America and Europe have the highest scores, although Europe has witnessed some declines in the last five years.


1. Introduction

2. Measurement of gender equality through the GSoD Indices

3. Political Gender Equality

4. Women in parliament

5. Women in civil society

6. Conclusion

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Image credit: International IDEA

Image credit: International IDEA 

Press Release

A collection of speakers from past events.

Top row from left to right: Patricia Torsney, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations; Anne-Marie Goetz, Professor of Global Affair at the New York University; Maria Bassols, Deputy Permanent Representative for the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations; Malene Almeida, Coordinator at Praia City Group on Governance Statistics; Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Advisor at International IDEA. 

Middle Row from left to right:  Annika Silva-Leander, Head of Democracy Assessment at International IDEA; Keboitse Machangana, Former Director of Global Programme at International IDEA; Annika Savill, Executive Head for the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF); Njeri Kabeberi, Chair of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers; Sarah Lister, Head of Governance at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. 

Bottom row from left to right: Pippa Norris, Lecturer and Political Science at Harvard University; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation; Maria Leissner, Ambassador at Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Riika Laatu, Finnish Ambassador to Myanmar; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.