by RENWICK ROSE
ICELAND, THE volcanic- ridden island in the North Atlantic ocean, has just missed out on becoming the first country in Europe to have a female majority in its Parliament.
In recent elections held there last week, 30 of the 63 seats were won by women, making Iceland Europe’s leader in female parliamentary representation with a percentage of 47.6%, just ahead of Sweden’s 47%.
Iceland has long been a leader in gender-equality and was ranked by the World Economic Forum in March of this year as “the most gender-equal nation” in the world, for the 12th year running. It has policies on equal parental leave for men and women, dating back as far as 1961 and is the first country to have elected a female Head of State in 1980.
Globally, four countries have parliaments with a female majority. The East African country of Rwanda leads the way, with 61% of its membership being female. It is followed by Cuba with 53.4%, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates jointly (50%) and New Zealand agonisingly just short with 49.3%. There is some discrepancy in the statistics for Nicaragua, some sources stating 50 % while others quote 47%.
Caribbean countries show increasing progress in their ranking for female parliamentary representation. Grenada ranks eighth with 46.7%, Guyana 38th (35.7%) followed by Dominica in 41st place. Interestingly Dominica ranks above the United Kingdom , in 42nd place, while those other supposed “bastions” of parliamentary democracy, Canada (in 58th place with 29.6% representation and the USA with 27.6% representation giving it a 70th place ranking) are not so well-ranked as one may have supposed.
St Vincent and the Grenadines is ranked in 124th place with its parliamentary representation being given as 18.2%. It can pride itself in having women occupying both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s positions in parliament.