The Growing Number of Women Leading the World

The editorial "The World's Women," June 25, concerning the United Nations report on women, points out women's painfully slow progress in governments throughout the world between the years 1970 and 1990. While it is true that the percentage of female parliamentarians or legislators is generally less than 10 percent (United States Congress 5.8 percent, British House of Commons 6.6 percent, French National Assembly 5.7 percent), there are some encouraging exceptions.The new German Bundestag is almost 20 percent female since the December election. State legislatures in the US now average 18.2 percent female membership, up from 4 percent in 1970. For many states in New England, as well as Colorado, Arizona, Washington, and Wisconsin, legislatures are already more than one quarter female. Australia's and New Zealand's parliaments are 12 percent and 16.5 percent female respectively, breaking all sorts of records, but the Scandinavian nations are the champions for women with cabinets and legislatures over one-third female. The secret of improving the number of women in leadership in democratic societies, as suggested by Martha Burk of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy, is to hold various political parties responsible for their progress, and then make sure that the female population gets to the voting booth. Without the support of women at the polls, qualified female candidates will never reach the top of the political ladder. Let's hope women throughout the world will start to vote for their best interests. George A. Dean, Southport, Conn.

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