The Country Where Only Two Women Have Been Elected In 47 Years

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At only eight square miles, the Pacific island nation of Nauru is a tiny place — but it has a big problem when it comes to women in politics. Those who lauded Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to make 50% of his cabinet female won't find Nauru's track record nearly as impressive.

Nauru, located northeast of Australia, has elected just two women to its parliament in 47 years of voting. In many cases, female candidates aren't even an option: just 31 women sought a seat in parliament between 1968 and 2004, compared with 860 men, Ellie van Baaren, regional and communications media specialist for United Nation's Women told Refinery29.

"We've always had this cultural thing that women should do women's stuff and let the men run the country," Ann Hubert, a woman considering running in the upcoming June elections, told Radio New Zealand. "Even though a lot more women in Nauru are much more educated than men. And it took a lot of guts for the women to actually start putting their names down as candidates.”

U.N. Women, which keeps records on female political representation around the world, is trying to change the course with a new campaign targeting women.

The agency has been hosting trainings aimed at helping boost female participation in recent weeks. Workshops for prospective candidates covered everything from issues of gender equality to media training, van Baaren explained via email. Media, meanwhile, were offered tips on gender-sensitive reporting.

The Republic of Nauru is tiny — it's home to fewer than 10,000 people, according to the CIA's World Factbook. But sadly, it isn't the world's only — or worst — offender when it comes to a lack of women in politics. Worldwide, women represented just 22% of all seats in parliament on average, as of the start of 2015, according to U.N. Women. Even the number of women in politics here in the U.S. is underwhelming.

But unlike the U.S., as of January 1, 2015, more than a dozen countries saw one or fewer women serving in parliament. Five governments — the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Qatar, Tonga, and Vanuatu — reported zero women in the chamber.
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