Gender Equality Glossary

The UN Women Training Centre’s Glossary is an online tool that provides concepts and definitions with gender perspective structured according to the thematic areas of UN Women. It includes gender concepts as well as international conferences, agendas, initiatives and partnerships related to gender equality.

The glossary is also available in Spanish and in French.



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Women’s political participation

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).


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