Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Legislative women

France has just had its legislative elections, leaving it with a net gain in the Socialist party, but still a clear majority of conservatives (the UMP). They also have a record number of women in the legislature — that is, a record for France. Their legislature now comprises almost 20% women.

Compare that with the US Congress, which is about 16% women (the Senate and the House of Representatives share that, with about 16% in each). 34 of our 50 states have at least one female legislator representing them in Washington. Which, of course, means that sixteen states do not.[1]

We in the US think we're progressive, in that respect, but France has us beat by several percentage points. And here's the thing: France's recent election moved them up from 86th place in the world to only 58th place, in percentage of women in the legislature. That now puts them ahead of us (in 68th place), but still behind the United Kingdom (52), China (50), Canada (48), Australia (33), Germany (15), Spain (8), and the Scandinavian countries (all in the top six), not to mention Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and, yes, Iraq (in 28th place).

They're just numbers, but, well, ya gotta wonder.

[1] Just for fun, the sixteen that do not are Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont.

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