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Politics

Worried About Threats to Global Democracy? Elect More Women in 2024, a Senior UN Official Says

ATHENS — Voters around the world who worry about growing threats to democratic freedoms should consider electing more women in countries’ national elections this year, the United Nations deputy secretary-general said Wednesday.

Amina Mohammed also said the increasing frequency of online threats made against female candidates is offsetting other gains.

“Advancing women’s participation is critical not only because women are significantly underrepresented in decision-making, but also because the future of democracy and achievement of peaceful societies depends on it,” she said.

She spoke by video link to a conference in Greece on women’s participation in politics.

More than 50 countries — home to half the planet’s population — are holding national elections in 2024, including India, Mexico and the United States, along with the European Union.

President of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewdein poses for the media before a meeting with her Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Sahle-Work Zewdein is in Greece to attend the Women Political Leaders (WPL), the global network of women politicians summit which will take place from March 19 to 21 in the Greek capital. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The global proportion of female lawmakers stood at 26.9% in 2023, a fractional increase from the previous year, according to data published this month by the Switzerland-based Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The world average for women’s representation in legislatures stood at 11.3% in 1995, but candidate quotas have helped to raise the rate in many countries over the last three decades, the IPU said.

Mohammed said the U.N. is currently advising more than 20 countries on how to help increase women’s participation in parliament.

More representative parliaments would help bolster democratic institutions, Ethiopia’s president, Sahle-Work Zewde, told the Athens conference. She is one of a tiny number of women in leading government positions in Africa.

“The current narrative is that we are in an era of democratic backsliding,” she said.

President of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewdein, left, and her Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou arrive for their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Sahle-Work Zewdein is in Greece to attend the Women Political Leaders (WPL), the global network of women politicians summit which will take place from March 19 to 21 in the Greek capital. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

“When democracy is under threat, it will have a negative impact on women,” she said. “In any given country, women constitute the majority of the electorate. This is a fact. (But) only a few men make it to the top position … So things have to change.”

The two-day event, organized by a global network of women politicians called Women Political Leaders, ends Thursday.

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By DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated Press

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