Watch 200 Years Of Women’s Rights Expanding Around The Globe

This map shows the slow but inexorable march toward equality around the world, as you see countries give women the right to vote and start electing them to political office.

People around the world celebrated International Women’s Day with symbolic gestures–like a song from female singers around the world, released by the UN, or an AirFrance flight piloted by an all-female crew–meant to honor the significant progress the global community has made on women’s rights (and address the many, many challenges that are still left).


The English newspaper The Guardian, honored the day with the release of this interactive map designed by LUSTlab, showing how laws and attitudes around the world have changed, slowly over time. Scroll from 1893 to 2013 and watch a black map fill in with color, as more and more countries grant women the right to vote and hold office, and elect female leaders. The infographic includes a summary of where each country stands on women’s rights as well, including information on contraception use and the percentage of legislative bodies that is female.

The data included is a potent reminder of some of the disparities in equality for women from one country to the next. But it’s also a great visualization of some oft-forgotten facts about the history of women’s rights.

Some favorite tidbits on this march to progress include the following: Finland was the first country where voters elected a woman to any office, in 1907, and New Zealand was the first country where women earned the right to vote, in 1893. But oddly enough, it was the United States where women were technically allowed to run for office–as early as 1788–even though no women were elected for anything until 1917 and women didn’t get to vote themselves until 1920.

Despite the U.S.’s long history of letting women run for office, our current congress is only 17% female, trailing behind many other countries including, South Africa (43%), Argentina (38%), Canada (25%), Mexico (25%), China (21%), France (20%), and The Dominican Republic (19%).

Saudi Arabia remains the only country where women can’t vote or run for office (although a female was appointed to office in 2009). North Korea is the only country (of the ones the project could find data for) where a woman has never been elected to office.

Of course, if the map added a layer for countries that have elected female heads of state, it would feature many more blank spots.


Play around with the infographic here.

About the author

Zak Stone is a Los Angeles-based writer and a contributing editor of Playboy Digital. His writing has appeared in,, Los Angeles, The Utne Reader, GOOD, and elsewhere.