Women in Politics: 2021

Angela Merkel stepped down and Kamala Harris stepped up.

In 2021, Kamala Harris became the first woman ever to assume the office of Vice President of the United States. Harris’s ascendency as the first woman was a remarkable event to reach the second highest job in American politics. While
German Chancellor Merkel’s ended unprecedented run of 16 consecutive years as an elected female head of government.

The number of women Parliamentarians globally — which exceeded 10,000 for the first time this past year — will continue its climb towards parity with men. And a lot can happen in a volatile world.

Despite increases in the number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist: progression in women holding ministerial portfolios has slowed, with just a small increase to from 21.3 per cent in 2020 to 21.9 per cent in 2021; the number of countries with no women in government has increased; and only 25.5 per cent of national parliamentarians are women, compared to 24.9 per cent the year before.
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The most obvious place to watch for a shift in gender politics is France. Several female challengers to incumbent Emmanuel Macron have already attracted national attention ahead of April’s Presidential elections. But it will take something unexpected for Valérie Pécresse of Les Républicains, Marine Le Pen of the far right National Rally, or anyone else to win a run-off with Macron.

United States

The potential for women to make gains this year in the national legislature is perhaps greater in the US , with all 435 seats in the hotly contested United States House of Representatives up for election in November. Only 119 of those seats are currently held by women. That was a significant rise from 102 seats prior to the 2020 elections, thanks to big gains by Republican women, who have long lagged their Democratic counterparts. The momentum in both parties and for women is still building, they potentially will exceed 30% for the first time and even approaching the symbolically important milestone of one-third of all seats in the House.


A month before the US election, voters will go to the polls in Brazil in what could be the election where women make more gains than anywhere else this coming year. Of 513 seats in Brazil’s lower chamber, only 77 are are occupied by women.


In Lebanon, where only six women occupy seats in the 128-member Parliament, that could change with elections now scheduled for May. In a country fractured by economic and political crisis, there are some efforts to create opportunities for more women candidates to gain the support — either through party structures. The legislative route failed to pass quotas for women in government.

This spring, Hungary’s Viktor Orban is facing increasing pressure from a recently united opposition that aims to end his 12-year run as Prime Minister. While the opposition draws from a wide spectrum of political ideologies, they would likely improve upon Hungary’s woeful 13.1% of Parliamentary seats occupied by women, which ranks last among European Union member states.

In the Philippines, Marcos-Duterte ticket leading early polls, incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo is emerging as their chief rival. She hopes to join past office-holders Corazon Aquino and Gloria Arroyo as female Filipino presidents.

In Malta, where one female member keeps them barely ahead of Hungary, with 13.4% women. Maltese voters will go to the polls a month after Hungarians. An optimistic scenario will see both Parliaments improving their gender balance, leaving Cyprus last in the EU league tables with only 14.3% women Parliamentarians.

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