Agence France-Presse

US Congress might be mostly male, but that's not the case in other countries

The US Congress opened its 114th session on Tuesday, bringing in one of the most diverse groups of lawmakers in US history: Women make up 20 percent of its ranks, and approximately 17 percent are non-white.

While it's certainly a step forward, the US still has a long way to go toward a totally representative Congress: As the Washington Post points out, the latest body of lawmakers is still about 80 percent male, 80 percent white, and 92 percent Christian. The US population, on the other hand, is about 51 percent female and 63 percent white (not including Hispanics or Latinos), and was just under 80 percent Christian when surveyed in 2007. 

Many countries face challenges creating a lawmaking body that is representative and diverse. While a different sex, gender, race, or religion doesn't automatically make a lawmaker better at their job, diversity and the varied perspectives it brings are part of enabling legislative bodies to respond to the needs to the citizenries they represent.

Demographics vary greatly from country to country, but arguably the most consistent ratio across them all is that of women to men — generally 1:1. A lack of women in Congress has perhaps been most noticeable in recent years during heated debates over restricting reproductive rights with policies that overwhemingly impact women.

So where are the countries with the most women in office?

The answers might surprise you. For a start, the country with the most women in parliament is Rwanda. Here's a chart that shows how many women are serving in parliament around the world. The data, which come from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, show the percentage of seats held by women.

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