International Women’s Day 2019

March 8, 2019 Weekly Graphs

March 8th marks International Women’s Day. It was first observed in 1913 and celebrates women’s achievements in society while calling for gender equality. There has been great progress since the first women gained suffrage in the late 19th century, to the record breaking 117 women who won elections across the United States in the 2018 elections. How does women’s political equality look today across the world?

We use V-Dem’s Power Distributed by Gender indicator and our Variable Graph Tool to investigate this. The indicator examines the extent to which political power is distributed by gender. It is measured on an ordinal scale from 1 to 4. 1 signifies men having a near monopoly on political power and 4 signifies men and women sharing roughly equal political power. 

Significant improvements have been made across the world, while the Middle East and North African (MENA) lags behind. This can be attributed to both gender expectations and legislation that further cements these expectations. For example, women in Saudi Arabia were only granted the right to vote and stand in municipal elections in 2015. Following this, 20 female candidates were elected to the 2,100 municipal council seats that were contested. 

Yet, the world average (orange line) on this indicator is not that impressive at a “2” representing that “Men have much more political power but women have some areas of influence.” Even in Europe where women’s political equality has come the farthest, the average is at a mere 2.5.

Hence, while we rightfully celebrate women’s achievements today, we must not forget that the battle has not yet been won and the fight for gender equality around the world must continue.

To learn more about V-Dem’s indicators and graphing tools, please visit


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