Women’s political participation refers to women’s ability to participate equally with men, at all levels, and in all aspects of political life and decision-making. Women’s participation and access to formal political power structures vary across countries. There is a steady upward trend in women’s political participation and representation in developed countries particularly in Nordic countries. Out of twelve countries where women representation in parliament is more than 33%, nine of them are ranked in the high human development category. However, the improvements in medium and low human development countries are not significant. The structural and functional constraints faced by women are shaped by social and political relations in a society. The common pattern of women’s political exclusion stem from (a) social and political discourses (b) political structures and institutions (c) the socio-cultural and functional constraints that put limits on women’s individual and collective agency.
Source: Bari, Farzana (2005) Women’s Political Participation: Issues and Challenges. Division for the Advancement of Women (now part of UN Women).