Iceland is now the first European nation to have a female majority government. How do other countries compare?
The Althing is considered the oldest parliament in the world. But on Sunday the Icelandic national parliament really made history.
The election results indicate an elected chamber where 33 of the 63 seats (52 percent) will be occupied by women. No other European country has ever had a female-majority parliament – although Rwanda (61%), Cuba (53%) and Nicaragua (51%) all fall into this category.
Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking for the past 12 years and was the first country to elect a woman president in 2018.
It has a pioneering gender pay law that requires employers to prove that they have been paying men and women the same wages since 2018.
Iceland is not part of the European Union but maintains close ties with the bloc – which is lagging behind. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, women represented on average 32% of members of national parliaments in the 27 EU Member States in 2020.
The best performers
Sweden is the most progressive EU country when it comes to equal gender representation in politics. Up to 47 percent of all MPs in Sweden are women, as are half of the ministers in her government. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Health are all headed by women politicians.
Sex discrimination has been illegal in Sweden since 1980. Since 2006, the country has been among the five most gender-equal countries in an annual ranking of 150 countries compiled by the World Economic Forum.
READ ALSO: No, women in Sweden don’t have everything yet
Finland comes just behind, with 46.5% of parliamentary seats held by women. In 2019, Sanna Marin made world headlines after being elected the world’s youngest sitting Prime Minister. She formed a coalition government of five parties, all led by women.
Most Finns, including our PM @MarinSanna, grew up with #Moomins. These fairy-tale characters, created by Finnish artist Tove Jansson, teach us about courage, friendship and equality. Come live their stories this fall at @NatChildrens to DC! @EndGovernment #MoominUSA pic.twitter.com/JuGsiAndyE
– Moomin (@MoominOfficial) September 13, 2021
In 1906, Finland became the first country in the world to extend the right to vote to women. It also allowed women to run for parliament. In the following year’s elections, 19 women won seats. Finland’s first woman president was Tarja Halonen who was elected in 2000.
The Nordic region as a whole has the highest proportion of women parliamentarians in the world.
Forty-four percent of the seats in the Spanish congress are held by women and the four deputy heads of government are women. One of these assistants, Nadia CalviÃ±o is also in charge of the Ministry of the Economy.
READ MORE: Women ministers now in majority as Spanish prime minister reshuffles cabinet
Following a recent reshuffle, 54% of cabinet members are women, meaning Spain has one of the most gender-progressive executive branches in the world.
“La importancia de los modelos de liderazgo para que las generaciones de niÃ±as puedan verse y pensar que pueden ser presidentas de una compaÃ±Ãa, o vicepresidenta de un gobierno”@Nadia Calvino vice-president primera del Gobierno de EspaÃ±a.# PremiosFEDEPE2021 pic.twitter.com/phRcIuM81R
– FEDEPE (@MujeresFedepe) September 21, 2021
The worst performers
Hungary has the lowest proportion of female politicians in the EU. Only 12% of MPs are women and only three ministers out of 16 are women, who did not even have full voting rights until 1945.
Right-wing Prime Minister Viktor OrbÃ¡n espouses particularly macho politics, and the dominant political discourse in Hungary tends to confine women to the conservative role of domestic workers of childbearing age.
The second best performing European country is Romania, where barely 19% of parliamentarians are women.
The country was ruled by a female prime minister, Viorica Dancila, in 2018-19, but she ultimately withdrew following a vote of no confidence. Some analysts claim that it was used as a puppet by Liviu Dragnea, the former leader of the Socialist Party who was banned from holding the post himself after being convicted of electoral rigging.
The Czech Republic also has a rather dismal female representation in parliament. Twenty-three percent of Czech deputies are women. This number has slowly increased, but from a very low bar. In the government formed after the 2010 elections, for example, there was not a single female minister.
So where are the other European countries located?
Only 31.4% of MPs are women in Germany, but that is of course likely to change with the next election. Austria is doing much better with 39.8% female representation in parliament.
In Italy, 35.6% of deputies are women. In France, this figure climbs to 38.6%. Denmark and Norway, true to the Nordic form, hover around 40 percent, while the Netherlands stand at 33 percent.
For a full list of European gender statistics, click on here.