Women in Power

Women in Power

Women account for approximately two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people globally who live in extreme poverty, but are being shut out of decision making that has a profound impact on their lives. VSO is campaigning against this injustice.

Women still remain unheard in many parts of the world.

All over the world, women suffer the most from poverty, but have the least say in what is done to tackle it. They account for approximately two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people globally who live in extreme poverty, but are being shut out of decision-making that has a profound impact on their lives and those of their families.

Globally, only 20% of parliamentarians and 15 heads of government are female. Only 20% of local government officials are female. Based on current trends, women will not be equally represented in parliaments until 2060, and will not make up half the world’s leaders until 2118.

Read our stories from across the world about how decision-making power among women ensures their specific needs and interests are promoted and defended.

2015: our chance for change

2015 is an important year for gender equality and international development.  In September all UN Member States will agree the post 2015 development framework – the Sustainable Development Goals. The process for negotiating the new framework is now underway. VSO is part of the action/2015 campaign, pressing for a strong post-2015 framework that will have the maximum impact on poverty reduction. Find out more.

Our recommendations to all member states include:

  • A strong standalone goal on gender equality and women's rights.
  • A target to increase the participation and influence of women at all levels of decision making in public and political life.
  • Specific indicators that measure the real extent of women's involvement and influence across all decision making structures.

Increasing women’s participation in decision-making has the potential to improve the lives of countless men and women living in poverty around the world.  We need to seize the opportunity that the post-2015 framework presents to drive forward progress on this critical issue. 


Women in Power: beyond access to influence in a post-2015 world - August 2013 (4 page summary) (Full report

Advancing women's participation & influence in political & public life through the post-2015 framework - VSO Briefing Note, March 2013 

Advancing Equality in Women's Participation & Influence in Public Life through the Post‐2015 Framework - Horner & Stokes – Inequalities Discussion Paper, November 2012

Achieving Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Post-2015 Framework – Gender and Development Network (GADN) Report, January 2013

Press release

DFID vision for women and girls an important commitment and action must tackle harmful norms and attitudes

VSO says excluding women from politics is a barrier to ending global poverty

VSO blogs

Giving a speech at the UN - a different way to celebrate turning 30 - June 2014

Training female Parliamentarians in Kenya – May 2014

What women want - March 2014