During the last Democratic debate, Senator Amy Klobuchar argued that women are held to a higher standard in politics than their male counterparts – or everyone would be able to cite their favorite female president of the United States.
While no country has had enough female heads of state to enable a real choice of ‘favorite’ (only a handful of countries have surpassed two), progress towards such a debate is slowly ramping up abroad. In 2018, 26 out of more than 190 countries or territories were ruled by women; this represents less than 15% but is nonetheless a historic high.
Looking beyond the presidential or prime ministerial seat, the forecast remains cloudy on a global scale but is getting brighter. As of February 2019, only 3 countries had reached equal gender representation in one of their houses of parliament, but 50 single or lower houses around the world were composed of at least 30% women. Though the merits of critical mass theory – which posits that women must reach 30% representation in a political body before being able to affect meaningful policy change – have been debated, crossing that threshold is, at the very least, a symbolic win given the role the theory has played in advocating for women’s participation in politics.