Female power

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Women political leaders remain a rarity in OECD countries. True, there is Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand, and high-profile women candidates are battling it out in major election campaigns in France and the US. But did you know that women are still vastly outnumbered by men in all the world’s parliaments?
This is one of the messages from a neat little booklet just released by the OECD called Women and Men. The 30-page booklet, which looks at gender performance in social and economic life, says there is no reliable relationship between country wealth and women representation in parliament.Women hold close to half the seats in Rwanda and Sweden and about a third in the Nordic countries, in Cuba, Costa Rica and Argentina. In nine OECD countries at least a third of parliamentary seats are held by women. The Nordic countries and the Netherlands stand out, with more than 35%. In most OECD countries, though, women hold under a quarter, with 15% or less in France, Italy, Japan and the US.References: Women and Men is a timely publication in view of International Women’s Day on 8 March and is available free by clicking here or on request at observer@oecd.org  ©OECD Observer N° 260, March 2007

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