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113 Countries Have Never Had a Female Head of State

Originally published by UN Women

Globally, women’s underrepresentation in decision-making remains as a stark reality, according to UN Women’s global data on Women Political Leaders 2024. UN Women’s new data on gender parity across leadership positions is published as the world commemorates the International Day for Women in Diplomacy on June 24.

Despite progress, women are still largely excluded from positions of power and diplomacy, with the highest levels of influence and decision-making still predominantly occupied by men. A staggering 113 countries worldwide have never had a woman serve as Head of State or Government and only 26 countries are led by a woman as of today. As of 1 January 2024, only 23 per cent of Ministerial positions are held by women and in 141 countries women make up less than a third of Cabinet ministers. Seven countries have no women represented in their Cabinets at all.

Male dominance in diplomacy and foreign affairs extends to the Permanent Missions to the UN, where women remain underrepresented as Permanent Representatives. As of May 2024, women held 25 per cent of Permanent Representative posts in New York, 35 per cent in Geneva, and 33.5 per cent in Vienna. 

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous, said, “Our work is guided by the belief that when women lead, the world is better for all people and the planet. As many countries head to the polls this year, we all must put women first, at the pinnacle of power, where and when it matters the most.  Women’s equal participation in governance and leadership is key to improving lives for all.”   

Electing and appointing women in leadership positions signals strong political will for gender equality and demonstrates a collective commitment to tackling the challenges the world faces today. As we prepare to mark 30 years since the passage of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the world’s most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights, UN Women continues to work to ensure women lead and thrive in shaping and driving positive change, including through occupying the most senior positions of power. 

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