Introduction xix women occupy 40–60 percent of parliamentary seats (Dahlerup 2017). Unfortunately, progress has been slow, incremental, and uneven. In 2022, women make up 26.4 percent of elected officials worldwide (IPU 2022a), ranging from 61.3 percent in Rwanda to no women in Yemen (IPU 2022b). Likewise, we also see a variation across regions (see table I.1). The Ameri- cas and Europe typically perform the best, while the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Pacific perform the worst. Against this backdrop, we need to ask ourselves these questions: why are there so few women in political office, and how can we increase the number of women representatives? Barriers to Political Office We can identify three major barriers to political office: institutional, socioeconomic, and cultural. Institutional factors are the rules of the (political) game, for example, how votes are allocated, the laws detailing who can run for political office, and any norms that determine how open political actors, such as political parties, are to recruiting women for poli- tics. Socioeconomic factors refer to the resources and capabilities individ- uals need to run for office, for example, access to education and employment that endow individuals with the ability to mount a political campaign and execute the duties of political office. Cultural factors describe the prevail- ing cultural norms in society and how likely society sees women as capa- ble political leaders. Table I.1 Descriptive Representation of Women—Regional Averages as of September 2022 World Region Percentage of Women Parliamentarians Americas 34.4 Europe 31.3 Sub-Saharan Africa 26.4 Asia 21.2 Middle East and North Africa 18.3 Pacific 19.9 Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (2022a).
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