The United States and Montenegro are tied for 78th place.

A study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union released ahead of International Women's Day - Friday, March 8 - ranked countries based on what percentage of their lawmaking bodies was made up of women.


PHOTO GALLERY: See photos of International Women's Day demonstrations around the world in a gallery at the end of this story


Based on information provided to it by the first of this year, the United States and Montenegro tied for 78th place, with women making up just 23.5 percent of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Montenegro's unicameral legislature - below the world average of 24.3 percent (the U.S. Senate did slightly better, with 25 percent being made up of women).

Rwanda came in first, with 61.3 percent of its lower house made up of women; the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu all tied for dead last with zero women in their parliaments.

Japan, with just a tenth of its lower house made up of women, was the lowest of the Group of 20 countries; Mexico, which came in fourth, with women making up 53.1 percent of its lower house, was the highest-ranked G-20 country.

The Nordic countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, all often hailed for their gender-equality policies - were in the top 25 (they took the 25th, 12th, 21st, 14th and fifth spots, respectively).

Chile, where a local government official made news this week by saying that women are fully free and content with poems and roses, placed 88th.

Some who have worked on this issue have suggested that 30 percent is the point at which women are able to hit a "critical mass" to influence politics (or business, or whatever the predominantly male sector may be). Some scholars, however, suggest that 30 may be too low a proportion to reshape political culture or political discourse, or even just to shift perceptions about women in politics.

But if 30 is indeed taken as the cutoff mark - only 50 of the 193 countries in the study make it.


Photos: International Women's Day demonstrations around the world

Friday is International Women's Day, a day marked with global demonstrations in the cause of gender equality. Some scenes from around the world so far:

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