Women Gain Record Congressional Seats in United States
A wave of women made history in the U.S. midterm elections last week, winning the largest number of seats in history. Though some races remain undecided, women will comprise at least 23% of the U.S. House of Representatives, up from 19.3% in 2018. This moves the United States up in global rankings of women’s parliamentary representation from 104th to 77th out of 193 countries. The record-setting class of women elected includes the first ever Muslim women and Native American women elected to Congress. The U.S. midterm results reflect a global trend toward greater political participation for women: Brazil, Mexico, Tunisia and Afghanistan, for example, all had record numbers of female candidates in elections this year.
FGM Rates Falling in Africa
The rate of girls under the age of 14 who undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) in Africa has seen a “significant decline” over nearly three decades, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal. The steepest drop was in East Africa, where FGM rates fell from 71 percent in 1995 to just 8 percent in 2016. In West Africa, prevalence rates dropped from 74 percent to 25 percent in the same period. However, campaigners said that teenagers and young women remained at risk of the harmful practice. “[The report] doesn't tell the whole story and there are other groups where cutting takes place after the age of 14. It takes place in teenagers, or in fact, even in women in preparation for marriage," said a spokeswoman for campaign group 28TooMany, which does research on FGM in Africa. National laws banning FGM have been introduced in 22 out of 28 African countries where the practice exists.
Global Development Fund Raises $1 Billion for Women
Last week, government and private donors agreed to contribute an additional $1 billion to the Global Financing Facility (GFF) to improve health and nutrition for women, children, and adolescent girls in low-income countries. The GFF is unusual among development funds in that it prioritizes investment in women and children. “We have to have girls, women and children at the forefront,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which pledged $200 million to the fund. “When you invest in them, they invest in everybody else in their family, and life improves – not just in their family, but community by community and country by country.” Despite strong evidence that gender equality leads to more secure and prosperous communities, advancement for women and girls remains chronically underfunded compared with other development objectives.