“No solutions to our world’s most pressing challenges – to end poverty, reduce inequality, bring sustainable peace and address climate change – can be achieved without the full and equal participation of women.” – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women

From the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political participation are restricted. Women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service or the private sector. This occurs despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change, and their right to participate equally in democratic governance.

Women face several obstacles to participating in political life. Structural barriers through discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s options to run for office. Capacity gaps mean women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.

Individual women have overcome these obstacles with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be level, opening opportunities for all.

Women are still under-represented in government, business, civil society, and key positions of influence. Empowering women changes lives and societies for the better.

UN Women’s Approach

UN Women encourages governments and businesses to achieve a quota of women in parliaments and the workforce, and in key management and decision-making positions.

UN Women motivates governments to pass laws which encourage gender equality and anti-discrimination policies, allow flexible work arrangements, and take action against sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. These legislative changes are more likely to occur when women are in government positions of power.

UN Women provides support and training for female political candidates to run for elected positions so that women’s voices are represented in government worldwide.