Women's equal participation

Margaret Bouibo is distributing record books during one of the community workshop meetings. Photo: Wolobah Sali

Around the world, women are underrepresented in politics, economic decision-making, peace processes and the public debate. This undermines democracy and violates women’s human rights. That is why we work with our partners to call for women’s full, effective and equal participation in society. Women’s voices should be heard and respected—everywhere.

Women make up half of the world’s population. Yet in almost every country, they are underrepresented and less likely to hold positions of power—whether as politicians, economic decision-makers, peace negotiators or participants in public debate.

On average, women worldwide hold around 25% of seats in national parliaments. In the regions where o ur partners operate, the figure ranges from 61% in Rwanda to a mere 6% in Lebanon.

The situation is even worse for peace processes. Since the 1990s, around one in ten peace negotiators have been women.

In the global economy too, women are underrepresented. The International Labour Organization reports four out of five companies worldwide are led by male CEOs.

Traditionally, many women have turned to civil society as an alternative arena of power, outside of formal decision-making structures. Currently, however, there is an ongoing and very worrying trend of shrinking civic space. This has hit women’s rights activists particularly hard, in many countries closing their only way of influencing society.

(Un)equal participation of women

women serve as Heads of State and/or Government as of January 2023.
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0 %
of seats in Rwanda's parliament are held by women. This is the highest share in the world.
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Why is equal participation important?

Ensuring women can participate in society on equal terms as men, is first and foremost a matter of human rights and of democratic values.

Research has also shown that equal participation increases the chance of achieving sustainable societies and lasting peace. In conflict-affected regions, peace processes are more likely to be gender-sensitive where a larger share of women participates in local decision-making bodies, parliament, the economy and civil society.

Equal participation also goes hand in hand with other issues Kvinna till Kvinna works with, such as economic gender justice and freedom from gender-based violence.

Read more about Margaret »
Margaret Bouibo. Photo: Wolobah Sali

“Women are supposed to take part in politics”

In 2017, Margaret joined a newly established women’s group in the community, organised by Kvinna till Kvinna’s Liberian partner organisation LIWEN. After that, it didn’t take long before Margaret decided to take an active role in the women’s forum.

“When I attended their workshop, I learned that we as women have rights, that we are supposed to take part in politics and take part in community leadership—not only men”, she says.


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How The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation and our partners work towards equal participation

Kvinna till Kvinna’s partners work to challenge traditional values that hold women back. They challenge power structures, economic structures and promote a more equal division of child-care and housework. This frees up time for women to engage in politics.

When a woman has decided to enter politics, Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations can offer her leadership trainings and capacity building. They also encourage women to be active in civil society and build links between women’s rights organisations and female politicians.

Promoting gender quotas is also part of some of our partners’ work. When implemented correctly, quotas can be an effective way to reach equal representation, as they compensate for the structural inequality women face.

Unfortunately, women continue to face obstacles even after they are elected to decision-making positions. Many are exposed to threats, slander and abuse on a regular basis. Their ideas are often less respected than those of their male counterparts. Addressing patriarchal power structures, our partners work to change this. It is important to remember that equal participation is not only about counting heads, but about real and meaningful influence.



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