Part 1: Analysis of Global Indicator from World Bank’s Open Data Catalog
For my World Bank dataset, I chose to analyze the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%), which shows the percentage of parliamentary seats in a single or lower chamber held by women.
Despite progress in recent decades, gender inequalities remain prevalent in many dimensions of life - worldwide. Women are vastly underrepresented in decision-making positions in government, although there is some evidence of recent improvement. I wanted to explore which countries have taken efforts to include women in political decisions and if there are reasons for the higher proportion of women in government.
Parliaments/governments across the world vary considerably in their internal workings and procedures, but generally legislate, oversee government and represent the electorate. In terms of measuring women's contribution to political decision making, this indicator may not be sufficient because some women may face obstacles in fully carrying out their decisions.
Question 1: Which countries have the highest proportion of women in parliament in 2020? The lowest? What does the distribution look like?
Analysis: As you can see, the countries with the highest proportion of women in parliament in 2020 are Rwanda (61.25%), Cuba (53.22%), Bolivia (53.08%), United Arab Emirates (50.00%), and Mexico (48.20%). I found these countries to be a little bit surprising to have such high proportions of women in parliament. I guess I thought that the top countries would be European countries that have female leaders like New Zealand, which has a rate of 40.83%. For reference, the US is relatively low at 23.43%, which is ranked 75th globally of women's representation in government.
The countries with the lowest proportion of women in parliament include Nigeria (3.63%), Oman (2.33%), Yemen (.33%), Vanatu (0%), Papa New Guinea (0%) and Micronesia (0%). There are also quite a few countries that do not have any data at all, which I assume have low proportions of women in parliament.
I also created a histogram in Figure 2 to find the shape of the distribution, which is positively skewed (skew is 0.44). This means that the majority countries worldwide have lower proportion of women in parliament, between 15-30%, while the lesser number of countries that I mentioned earlier have higher proportions. I also created a violin plot, Figure 3, to show the interquartile range (min = 0.00, 25%= 15.94, 50% = 22.52, 75% = 30.00, max = 61.25) to help visualize the distribution.
Question 2: Does a country's economic income have a relationship with the proportion of women in parliament?
To see if a country’s economic income has a relationship with the proportion of women in parliament, I sorted my world bank data into the income categories that were included in the data set. The world bank already broke down what countries are in each category and averaged the proportion of women in parliament for each economic category. I created a Tableau map breakdown of countries by income here to help visualize which countries are in each category. There is a more detailed list of the countries in each category from the World Bank, which I linked here. I then created a bar plot ranking the average proportion of WIP by income.
Analysis: As you can see in Figure 5, it seems there is a direct relationship between a country's income and the proportion of women in parliament. Higher income countries typically have more progressive governments and more movements towards social change and equality, while lower income countries are less focused on social efforts, and more focused on other issues such as poverty and conflict.
What is interesting is that lower middle-income countries have a lesser rate of women in parliament than low-income countries. My first assumption about this was that maybe there were more low-income countries (LIC) than lower middle-income countries (LMC). But, after researching how many countries were in each category, I found that there are 50 LMC countries, and only 29 LIC countries. A majority of these low-income countries are in Africa, and the average rate could be brought up by countries like Rwanda (61.25%), South Africa (46.46%), Namibia (43.27%), Senegal (43.03%), Mozambique (42.40), and other LIC countries.
Question 3: Rwanda has the highest proportion of women in parliament – how has this proportion grown in the past 20 years and is there any reason why?
I found it interesting that Rwanda had the highest proportion of women in parliament, as they are a low-income country. I decided to look into Rwanda’s proportion of women in parliament from 1997 (the first year of available data) to 2020. I sorted the data by year and created a bar plot to visualize the distribution.
Analysis: As you can see in Figure 6, the rate of women in parliament (WIP) increases dramatically after 2003. In 1997-2000, the proportion of women in government went from about 17% to around 25%. After 2003, you can see that the proportion of women in parliament increases dramatically (23% increase) during what I assume are election years. The proportion continued to increase all the way up to its peak in 2013-2016, and decreased a little bit in 2017, but is still the highest percentage worldwide. After doing some research, I found an interesting article on the Rwandan government here that explains how the Rwandan constitution set a quota to require 30% of parliament members be female, which explains the increase we see in the graph in 2003.
Outside of the data, I wanted to dig a little deeper as to why this low-income African country has the most progressive government when it comes to gender equality. I found that during the Rwandan genocide in the 1990's, it is estimated that over 500,000 people were killed, most of these deaths being men. According to an article from Inclusive Security, 70% of the Rwandan population were women after the genocide. Faced with ensuring their families’ very survival, women stepped up to rebuild their broken country.
Women held 3 of the 12 seats of the commission in charge of drafting a new constitution for Rwanda, establishing a 30% quota for women throughout government as well as a gender monitoring office. With 30% of parliamentary seats reserved for women, the council system fed those from lower levels into the reserved positions. Soon the women with the highest profiles and the most experience began running against men in non-reserved positions and winning. Today, with 64% of its seats held by women, Rwanda’s parliament leads the world in female representation.
"Despite concerns about its uneven transition to democracy, Rwanda is acknowledged by many—two decades after the genocide—as one of the most stable nations in Africa, remarkably corruption-free. In only ten years, life expectancy has risen from 48 to 58 years. Deaths of children under five have been cut in half" (Inclusive Security).
I think that Rwanda sets an excellent example of what female leadership should look like and the benefits it can have on a country. In my opinion, more countries should look into female leadership quotas in government.