WASHINGTON-- The number of women serving in state legislative bodies across the United States hit new high, according to the federal data released Wednesday.
As many as 1,830 American women are now in elected office, holding 24.8 percent of the 7,383 seats in the country's 99 state legislative chamber, data from the U.S. National Conference of State Legislatures show.
However, the surge is very small from the previous zenith. In 2010, 1,808 women held legislative seats across the country.
Out of the total, 1,109 women in state legislatures are Democrats, compared with 704 Republicans. There are also four members of minor parties, and 13 women in Nebraska's nonpartisan, unicameral legislature, according to a news report of The Hill.
American women hold a larger share of seats in state legislatures than they do in Congress: 21 members of the United States Senate are women, while women account for 83 voting seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, or 19 percent. Women have held at least 50 seats in every U.S. Congress since 1993.
In comparison, over 40 percent of parliamentary bodies in Finland, Norway and Sweden are made up of women. More than 30 percent of those holding seats in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria and the United Kingdom are women, said the report, quoting World Bank statistics.
"There are 100 nations that surpass us in terms of the number of women in the national parliament," said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University.
The first woman to hold national office in the United States is Jeannette Rankin (June 11, 1880 - May 18, 1973). She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916 by the state of Montana as a member of the Republican Party. She won a second House term 24 years later, in 1940.
Source: Philippines News Agency