We have the tendency to think that the United States sets the standard for all that is good and right in the world; but in reality, we're still far behind when it comes to gender equality. In fact, we don't even make the top 10 list of the parliaments with the greatest representation of women. To determine which countries specifically came out on top, the Inter-Parliamentary Union gathered data on how many women were elected to parliaments, dumas, congresses, legislative assemblies, and chambers of deputies all across the globe. (Want to hear something depressing? No? I'm going to tell you anyway: The United States came in 100th place, with the Lower House being comprised of 19.3 percent women, and the Upper House or Senate having 21 percent. I'll just let that sink in.)
While women make up around half of the world population, our representation in parliaments around the world does not reflect that; gender inequality is still very much a widespread problem. Things start out alright, but the numbers quickly dip, with men taking over in these positions.
It's not all bad news, because conditions have improved in some countries. Seeing the numbers in black and white helps illustrate how certain nations are making some seriously positive progress in the name of gender equality — and it points out the others who need to kick things up a notch. So, who took the top 10 spots?
With the Lower House consisting of 61.3 percent women and the Upper House having 38.5 percent, Rwanda tops off the list of equal gender representation, taking a step toward becoming more pro-woman.
It drops significantly from Rwanda, but Bolivia still has 53.1 percent women in its Lower House — a pretty amazing representation of women. The country has spent the last five years or so promoting the political participation of its women in public decision-making.
48.9 percent of Cuba's Lower House is made of women. Cuba has made great strides in supporting women: According to the 2014 World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report, they ranked 18th among 142 nations for women's political empowerment.
Iceland has had a reputation for leading the way in gender equality, often coming out on top when it comes to closing the gender gap. The fact that 47.6 percent of their Lower House is made of women, then, it's all that surprising.
45.7 percent of the Lower House is women — contributing to Nicaragua largely holding the reins in showing Central America how it's done.
Sweden prides itself on ensuring everyone has the same opportunities and rights in all areas of life. The women in their Lower House — 43.6 percent of the total — are just one way they encourage this.
Although it has its critics, Senegal's 2010 gender parity law — which requires parties to have women make up at least half of the candidates in local and national elections — has significantly changed the country's gender dynamics. 42.7 percent of the Lower House is women.
The number of women in Mexico's parliament has been steadily rising through the years; and it's now nearly tied for seventh place, with 42.6 percent women in the Lower House (and 36.7 percent of the Upper House, too).
9. South Africa
Since the end of the apartheid, South Africa has been working toward giving women active roles in the government through policy changes and organizations defending women's rights. Women make up about 42.1 percent of the Lower House and 35.2 percent of the Upper House.
Finland did something very special: In 1906, their national assembly became the first parliament in the world to incorporate total gender equality. All men and women were equally granted the right to vote and run for election. 42 percent of their Lower House is women.