17/12/2019

A gender disparity

Ranking topics: Women in parliament

At only 34 years of age, Sanna Marin, who was appointed Finland’s prime minister on December 10th, is the youngest head of government in the world. As well as her youth, her gender also makes her something of a rarity, at least by international standards. She is one of only five women among the European Union’s 28 current leaders. What is more, Ms Marin leads a left-wing coalition whose five parties are all led by women, three of whom are under 35. Her cabinet will contain 12 women and seven men: at 63%, the female share is the highest in the European Union.

To Finns, seeing plenty of women in senior political positions is not unusual. As with other Nordic states, Finland has been at the forefront of gender equality in politics for several years. Forty-seven per cent of its parliamentarians are female, one of the highest shares in the world. Ms Marin is the third woman to become prime minister. In the rest of Europe, women find it harder to reach the top jobs. But more of them are getting there. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, a pressure group, the proportion of women in senior positions in EU governments has crept up from 25% in 2009 to 30% this September. And the number of female heads of government has risen from two to five this year. Although Britain’s Theresa May stood down in July, three other women had taken office before Ms Marin: Austria’s interim chancellor, Brigitte Bierlein; Belgium’s prime minister, Sophie Wilmès; and Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen. They join Angela Merkel, who has been Germany’s chancellor since 2005.

This article is from our Graphic detail section.