Since Danish women got the vote in 1915 the number of women MPs has steadily risen with the largest increase occuring during the 1970s.

By Katarina Blomqvist, 2006
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KVINFO.dk/ Women in Denmark got the vote in 1915. But it was a long time before women began to play a significant role in the political life of the country. Until the 1950s women members of parliament as a percentage of the total number of representatives did not break through the 10% mark.  
 
The General Election in 1971 saw this share leap to 17% and in the 1980s it grew to 30%. After the last General Election, in 2001, 38% of members elected to parliament were women. 
 
The pattern is repeated in county councils and local authorities – but here women’s representation is still below the 30% mark. 
 
A prerequisite of being elected is to be nominated as a candidate. Ever since women got the vote, Dansk Kvindesamfund (Danish Women’s Society) has pushed for more women candidates, and has campaigned under a “Vote for a Woman” banner in the run-up to elections. 
 
That women have found it difficult to break into political life is presumably due to the culture of male-dominated political parties, and because women’s membership of these parties encountered strong opposition well into the 1900s. For many years after women got the vote, it was only the most forceful women politicians – the few who could hold their own in the male-dominated environment – who were able to pursue a career in the party political arena. 
 
Since the 1970s, however, the status of women in politics has improved. Women are no longer a small, but now a large minority. Women have had an impact on Danish politics. Many parties have noticed the benefits to be reaped by promoting young female candidates. Any party which did not put forward male and female politicians alike would today lose its democratic credibility in the estimation of much of the electorate.
 

The Danish Parliament

Election year     Women MPs as % of total 

1960

10 %

1964

10 %

1966

11 %

1968

11 %

1971

17 %

1974

15 %

1975

16 %

1977

17 %

1979

24 %

1981

24 %

1987

33 %

1988

31 %

1990

34 %

1994

34 %

1998

38 %

2001

38%

2005

37.7 %

 

Municiple councils

Election year     Women councillors as % of total 

1960

6 %

1966

10 %

1970

11 %

1974

13 %

1978

18 %

1981

20 %

1985

24 %

1989

26 %

1993

28 %

1997

27 %

2991

27 %

2005

27.4 %