Monitoring women in politics

Update: 50/50 Campaign 2015

[Brussels, 17 June 2015]

The Spring Edition of the EWL’s #5050campaign is drawing to a close…

Over the past four months the EWL’s #5050Campaign covered elections and women’s participation in the governments of Finland, the United Kingdom, Poland and Turkey. We’d like to thank the EWL members NYTKIS, NAWO, Engender Scotland, NIWEP, WEN Wales and a member of the EWL’s Turkish coordination (KAGIDER), KA.DER, for their much appreciated contributions. While the UK and Turkey saw increased representation for women in the legislative bodies following the elections, Finland lost one woman-held seat and passed from 42% to 41.5% women in the Eduskunta. In the Polish presidential elections only one woman ran for office on May 10, due in part to the requirement for potential candidates to reach a minimum of 100,000 signatures to be officially nominated.

In order for parity to be reached, European countries need to do better, and faster. The rate at which women’s participation in government is increasing is insufficient will not lead to parity democracy within the next 15 years. Action must be taken if real change is to be accomplished.

The EWL demands political parties across Europe and beyond to commit to quotas for electoral lists and implement tools to increase women’s participation in politics such as twinning (parties selecting candidates in constituencies in tandem, one female and one male) and zipping (alternating women and men on party lists) to ensure improved visibility and the placement of women in winnable seats.

Success in Turkey: increase in women’s representation after June 7 legislative elections

Following the legislative elections on June 7, the new Turkish Parliament includes 96 women representatives, 17.5% of the 550 seats of the Grand National Assembly. We welcome the increase from the previous composition in which women held only 14% of the seats (79 representatives).

Which parties do the newly elected representatives come from? Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative Islamic party, the AKP, sent 41 women to the Grand National Assembly. The opposition party, CHP (Social Democrat), sent 20 women representatives. The nationalist MHP sent 4 women. And the pro-Kurdish HDP sent 31 women. The HDP is the only party that uses a gender quota system when fielding candidates (50% women) and the party is led by a man and a woman.

Nonetheless, Turkey can do better than 17.5% women in the Grand National Assembly considering women constitute 49.8% of the population.

Danish legislative elections June 18

Denmark’s legislative elections were convened on May 27 by the current Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrat Party. They will take place on June 18, 2015. Thorning-Schmidt is a self-declared feminist and has been outperforming her opponent, Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Venestre) in recent polls. She is also the first woman to hold the position of Prime Minister in Denmark.

Women currently make up 38% of the Folketing (Danish Parliament). There are 799 candidates standing in the legislative elections, of which 31% are women. The parties with the highest proportion of women candidates are Radikale party (Social Liberals), at 40%, and the Conservative People’s party, at 38%. Unfortunately, none of the parties have parity on their lists. However, Danish Parliament is composed of 179 members, so electing 50% women among the candidates competing for seats is an achievable reality. You can do it Denmark!

Stay tuned for the next 6 months of the #50/50campaign

From now until December, the EWL will be reviewing women’s participation in government in the following countries: Poland, Portugal and Spain. The EWL will continue to share fact sheets to draw attention to the gap between men and women in power and will promote greater inclusion of #womeninpolitics. There is much to celebrate looking back at this spring’s elections. However, parity has not been reached.

Inclusivity and accountability of parties are the foundations of a democratic and just society. Gender parity at all decision-making bodies is one essential element for accountability and therefore women have to be equally represented in decision-making at local, national and international levels.

The #5050campaign is not over yet. We won’t stop until 5050 is achieved!

Many thanks to Adeline Frontier for contributing to this article.

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