Women and power: overcoming barriers to leadership and influence

March 2014 to March 2016

Around the world, women now have more power than ever before. Men still dominate decision-making -- but the number of women is on the rise in parliaments and cabinets, judiciary and police forces, formal employment and education.

Increasing the number of women in political and public positions is important, but does not mean that they real power. Women in public life are often subject to sexism and prejudice. Women are less represented in the sectors and positions with the most power.

This two-year research project on women's voice and leadership in decision-making, funded by DFID, set out to understand the factors that help and hinder women's access to and substantive influence in decision-making processes in politics and society in developing countries. The project also considered whether, as is often assumed, women's leadership advances gender equality and the wellbeing of women more broadly.


Infographic: the number of women in parliament is rising, but men still dominate
Infographic: economic development doesn't always lead to more women in power
Infographic: more women MPs does not always mean more women in the top government jobs

The power to decide: women, decision-making and gender equality

Briefing papers | September 2015 | Tam O'Neil and Pilar Domingo
This briefing explores women’s decision-making power. It investigates the reasons for women’s increased presence in public life; why some women have less political power than others; when and how women have power and influence in practice, and what they seek to achieve.

Women’s voice and leadership: assessing the evidence

Research reports and studies | April 2015 | Pilar Domingo; Rebecca Holmes; Tam O’Neil; Nicola Jones; Kate Bird; Anna Larson; Elizabeth Presler-Marshall and Craig Valters
This report reviews the global evidence on what enables women and girls to have substantive voice and leadership in decision-making, and whether this improves gender equity for women more broadly.