Marking IWD in a Year of Global Elections

By Kate Olsen

On International Women’s Day (March 8), as half of the global population prepares to vote in an election in 2024, we wonder what will the results mean for gender equality and the advancement of women and girls?

At least 64 countries and the European Union will hold national elections and the outcomes may prove consequential for years to come. Yet in many instances there are few women candidates on the ballot, especially for the highest offices. Just 26 countries have women serving as the head of the government and at the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years, according to UN Women. Additionally, many influential female leaders will be stepping down after 2024 when their terms end.

The underrepresentation of women in policymaking and leadership means that the laws of the land often don’t consider their rights and needs. This is especially true when it comes to protections against gender-based violence and discrimination.

Further, in many parts of the world where gender inequality persists the most, women are also underrepresented among the voting public for many reasons — they lack access to education and information, they lack mobility to get to the polls, their culture and customs dictate that voting is for men only. And in many of these places, there is no guarantee of free and fair elections, adding another deterrent for those women thinking about braving the dangers and stigmas to cast their vote.

But evidence shows that gender balance in policymaking and government leadership leads to better outcomes — and that women’s leadership in political decision-making processes improves them. In this year of consequential global elections, we’ll be watching to see how the candidates frame equity issues and prioritize inclusive policies — with the hope that results advance a future of progress shared by all.

Olsen, Kate2


Kate specializes in developing strategies and integrated engagement campaigns that help purpose-driven clients build brands and advance sustainable development.

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