The Washington Post

Women’s political rights around the world, in one map

Women's suffrage in 2012 (top) and 1962 (bottom), where yellow means women have the right to vote. (

A new map designed by the Dutch firm LUSTlab for World Women's Day illustrates exactly how far women's rights have come in recent years -- and how far, in some places, they still have to go.

The interactive map (clickable version here) shows when women got the right to vote and to stand for election in every country but the disputed Western Sahara. It also tracks issues like childbirth deaths, laws against domestic violence, and the percentage of women in government.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia comes out at the bottom on almost every metric. The conservative Muslim kingdom is still the only place where women can neither vote nor stand for election -- to say nothing of driving, or traveling without male permission -- and laws there do not protect women against domestic violence or marital rape.

Notably, King Abdullah has promised that women will vote in 2015 municipal elections, and he announced in January that women would soon fill 20 percent of the seats on his advisory Shura Council. But the council does not enact legislation, and women still face profound cultural inequities. In many parts of Saudi Arabia, restaurants, shopping malls and university classrooms all strictly segregate women from men.


Women fare better in Western Europe and Scandinavia. Six of every 10 Finnish ministers are ladies; in Spain, Norway, Iceland and Chile, it's roughly half and half.

If you're wondering where the U.S. falls, it's toward the Scandinavian side of the spectrum -- but the results are still mixed. Only 17 percent of our congress members are women (perhaps explaining why the word "Congresspeople" hasn't caught on) and 24 women died in childbirth for every 500,000 in 2008.


That's double what it was in 1990, and significantly more than our European counterparts -- France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal all have childbirth-death numbers under 10.

Caitlin Dewey is The Post’s digital culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @caitlindewey or subscribe to her daily newsletter on all things Internet. (



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Caitlin Dewey · March 8, 2013

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