While the political climate for leaders male or female is precarious, female leaders face an even more doubtful atmosphere. Despite Angela Merkel and Theresa May retaining the top spots within their governments and some of the most powerful positions in the world, each faces opposition from their own parties as isolationist ideas gain hold across Europe.
Worldwide, less than a quarter of women hold a position of political power. While 25% may seem like a low percentage, it is quite an increase when compared to previous years. Although the world of politics still has a way to go until it reaches gender parity, 2018 was a particularly notable year for women in politics across the world.
In 2018, in Europe, women holding office in national legislative bodies comprise about 30 percent of the representation. This accounts for 17 European political states including Monaco. No breakthrough occurred during the 2017 elections when a large number of women did run for office. France and Spain just two European countries with notable achievements.
France elected a record number of female members to its parliament. With 577 positions in the French National Assembly, women took 223 of those slots. Looking at Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez appointed a cabinet majority comprised of females. Nearly two-thirds, 11 out of 17, of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s cabinet-level appointees are women. This is a major shift in Spain’s government, compared to a few decades ago when Spain had no women ministers. Due to this development, Spain has the highest percentage of women in cabinet in all of Europe.
In the U.S., the increase in women running for political office is likely due in part to Hillary Clinton’s defeat for President of the United States. At the beginning of 2018, over 42,000 women contacted Emily’s list, an American political action committee, about running for office. 356 women Democrats and 120 Republicans filed paperwork to run for Congress. By the time elections were over, 112 women claimed seats in the United States Congress. This marked a new record for the United State’s government which was previously set at 107.
In the United States, we also saw a record number in the number of minorities who gained a political position. Kansas’ Democrat Sharice Davids and New Mexico’s Democrat Deb Haaland became two of the first Native American women to be elected into United States legislature. Another monumental step was the first-time election of two Muslim women, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.
Overall, 2018 marked a great year for women in politics and women are making substantial political gains in national legislatures worldwide since 1997.