Women in Politics: Does the News Perpetuate Misrepresentation?

15/05/2023     1 min 23 sec     By Ahlem Khattab

(Source: The Global Media Monitoring Project)

Since 1995, there has been a growing number of women running for office, getting elected or designated as representatives. Let’s take a look at how the representation of women in politics and in political news evolved over the years.

Sanna Marin, Angela Merkel, Michelle Bachelet… In the last two decades, the world has seen more women in power than ever before. But that progress is very slow. According to UN Women, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached before at least 130 years more. It also isn’t linear. In the matter of less than six months in 2023, the number of women heads of state or government went down from 34 to 29. In 1995, there were just 12 women at the top.

Plus, holding a high position doesn’t always equate having great power.

More generally in governments across the world, only a total 22,8% of cabinet ministers are women as of January 1st, 2023. As for the top 3 portfolios they are trusted with? Women and gender equality, Family and children affairs, and Social inclusion and development.

National parliaments tend to be more gender-inclusive, even though the global average isn’t that much higher: just 26,5%. Only 6 countries have currently reached or exceeded the 50% mark: Rwanda, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates. At the current rate, parity won’t be achieved before 2063, says UN Women.

This lack of representation translates into the media. We can’t exactly compare the percentages as the methodologies differ and the number of countries accounted for is not the same, but the Global Media Monitoring Project — which has been tracking how women are portrayed in the news since 1995 — has found that progress has been slow and varying in political news as well.

Beyond the number of women we see in the news, it’s interesting to take a look at the “roles” they are given in stories.

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