Posted on 8 May 2015
[Brussels, 29 April 2015] It is now a well-known fact that women represent more than half of the population of the European Union, but they are not represented equally in decision-making at all European levels. This current and lingering under-representation is a serious obstacle to the democratic legitimacy of the EU.
However, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and its members are encouraged by positive developments in the European Commission this year that represent steps in the right direction toward a gender-equal Union.
The European Commission has been increasingly sensitive to the question of equal representation over the years and even declared a strengthened commitment to equality between women and men in A Women’s Charter in 2010. The EWL has demanded, in a Joint Declaration by the 5050 Coalition, that Member States should nominate one male and one female candidate for the college of Commissioners as well as for other top jobs in the EU institutions in order to make measurable progress on such commitments. Despite President Jean-Claude Juncker’s request that member states nominate more women candidates when forming his college of Commissioners last year, the response was disappointing. The current Commission of 28 includes 9 women, proving that achieving parity in the EU executive remains unfinished work.
President Juncker has not given up though, and is aiming to increase the number of women during an upcoming reshuffle of the directors-general. “Mr. Juncker has told commissioners to submit three names for their own department in sealed envelopes, at least one of whom should be a woman.” Hopefully this initiative will raise the number of women in these top civil-servant posts from the current 6 out of 35.
Other commissioners are pushing for more equal representation too. The Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources, Kristalina Georgieva, has declared it her mission to increase the number of women in senior positions in the Commission from 27.5% to 40% by the end of her mandate. The EWL welcomes Commissioner Georgieva’s initiative with great enthusiasm and supports her commitment to promoting women to senior posts.
Finally, the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT) has taken concrete and positive steps to achieve proper representation of women. In March of this year, DG CONNECT pledged to
(1) always include at least two women speakers at events they organize
(2) no longer accept invitations to speak on all-male panels or all male conferences organized by external stakeholders
(3) try to ensure better representation for women at events outside the EU
The DG also made alist of inspiring women in tech to help conference planners identify and invite more women speakers.
A movement has also been born from frustration with encountering all-male or male-dominated panels at European forums and events. In order for real debate to take place, both women and men need to be present and participating. EU Panel Watch (@EUPanelWatch) calls for an end to all-male panels and puts pressure on event organizers by posting and retweeting photos from EU panels, often accompanied by clever commentary. In June, the EWL will dedicate time to the question of parity on panels and look at how this plays out in civil society and which further steps EU institutions are willing to take to make parity become reality in the EU.
The EWL and its members applaud these positive developments and wish to see more praiseworthy measures and continued progress toward parity in the European Union.
Posted on 27 March 2015
[Brussels, 26 March 2015]
2015 is an important year for the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and for the women’s rights movement globally. The European Women’s Lobby is celebrating 25 years of action for equality between women in men in all spheres: social, economic, and political. The international community is also celebrating and reflecting on the progress achieved in the 20 years following the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action at the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women recently took place in New York where representatives met to discuss current challenges that affect its implementation.
Women in power and decision-making positions represent one of the strategic objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action. Article 13 of the Declaration states: “Women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace.” In 1995, the year the Platform was adopted, the world average of women in national parliaments was 11%. Today, women represent 22.2% of members of the single or lower houses of national parliaments across the globe. This figure is slightly higher in EU countries, with women accounting for 28% of members of the single or lower houses of parliaments. While this is certainly an improvement, women still face discrimination and true parity where women occupy 50% of top decision-making posts is not being accomplished quickly enough.
At the European Union level, the EU will adopt its new strategy on equality between women and men, which should be the framework for action on gender equality for the coming five years. Equality between women and men is a core value of the European Union, enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In this very active and exciting year for the women’s movement, there are opportunities to increase women’s representation in the top echelons of political decision-making by promoting women candidates in national elections across Europe. Over the next few months, the EWL will raise awareness and develop joint actions with its members in the following countries: Finland (April 19), the United Kingdom (May 7), Poland (May 10) and Turkey (June 7). We will be sharing information on the current levels of women’s representation in these countries, as well as demanding parity with regards to women’s participation in 2015.
The European Women’s Lobby believes that empowering women to take leadership positions is crucial for sustainable economies and democratic and just societies. The EWL calls upon all political parties to be truly inclusive of women and to aim at achieving parity in elections at all levels. From now, we will be engaging with our members and followers through our website, the EWL newsletter, Facebook and Twitter. We will call upon MEPs to publicly voice their support for parity in their national elections. We will ensure our members’ voices are heard and to inspire people across Europe to demand gender equal representation in governing bodies. We will continue to fight for transformative leadership in the EU and beyond! Will you vote for #womeninpolitics this year?
You can take action now!
For our feminist friends in the United Kingdom, Scottish Women’s Aid, a member of our Scottish member Engender Scotland, has provided useful questions you can tweet or mail to your MPs along with a nifty tool for getting the necessary contact info. Keep an eye out for more information and updates on our Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #5050campaign and #womeninpolitics.
Posted on 16 September 2014
[Brussels, 16 September 2014] Here you find some reactions of international newspapers to the new Composition of the European Commission.
These articles mention EWL’s disappointment and report the view of our Fundraising Coordinator and Policy Officer Serap Altinisik on this issue.
Posted on 12 September 2014
[Brussels, 12 September 2014] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the appointment of Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers & Gender Equality.
Not only a title
“Gender Equality” has been explicitly acknowledged in Ms Jourová’s title, which we believe to be a strong political statement. It was one of the EWL demands in our Manifesto for the European Parliamentary elections of May and we look very much forward to engage in dialogue with Ms Jourová on about how to ensure women’s rights and make gender equality become a reality in the EU.
In his ’Mission Letter’ to Věra Jourová, future Commission President Juncker mentions (very briefly) what is expected on the gender equality subject.
“Ensuring that, within the scope of EU competences, discrimination is fought and gender equality promoted, including by exploring how to unblock negotiations on the Commission proposal for the Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive.”*
This is very good news for the anti-discrimination directive and the EWL has high expectations of what is further foreseen on the topic of ’promoting gender equality’.
Overrepresentation of men
The European Women’s Lobby stays however dismayed with the fact that the Juncker Commission consists of only 9 women Commissioners out of 28. This is no progress in comparison to the Barroso Commission and clearly not a mirror of European society, of which more than half of the population is female. For the European Women’s Lobby it is a disgrace to democracy that this overrepresentation of men is still acceptable for the European institutions and the EU Member States.
We urge all European Commissioners-designate to prioritise gender equality in their own portfolios. Evidently for the European Women’s Lobby, a position for a Commissioner-designate known for sexist statements is simply unacceptable.
We expect the European Parliament to still carefully consider during the hearings whether the equal representation of women and men is met with the current proposal of the College of the EC.
Follow Commissioner-designate Jourová on Twitter [twitter.com/VeraJourova>https://twitter.com/VeraJourova]
EWL earlier articles
Women hold up half the sky http://www.womenlobby.org/news/ewl-news/article/women-hold-up-half-the-sky-no?lang=en
The potentional new European Commission, no thank you http://womenlobby.org/news/ewl-news/article/the-potential-new-european?lang=en
Picture copyright European Commission
Posted on 5 September 2014
[Brussels, 5 September 2014] Today future European Commission (EC) President Juncker published the full list of commissioner-candidates.
While the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the fact that during the past weeks the number of proposed female Commissioners by the Member States increased from a shameful 4 to 9, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union still believes that a stagnation in the numbers of women Commissioner is unacceptable for women across the EU. At this snail’s pace, European women will have to wait another half of a century and won’t even live to see parity.
Even the “Ten Or More” mark is not reached, as some former Commissioners, such as Neelie Kroes, asked for. The composition of the EC is clearly not a mirror of European society, of which more than half of the population is female and much more diverse than the current proposed Commissioners.
Moreover, there are still (too) many member states which have never appointed a woman as a Commissioner, namely Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia. We call on these members states to fully implement the core values of the EU, namely to ensure gender equality. Therefore, we demand that these states get rid of their blind spot when it comes to women politicians and to appoint them to decision-making positions at EU level.
Furthermore, The EWL, urgently calls on the future president to appoint a European Commissioner for women’s rights and gender equality to show that the EC has landed in the 21st century.
We call on the European Parliament, directly elected by the citizens of Europe, to carefully consider whether the equal representation of women and men is met with the current proposal of the College of the EC.
Women hold up half of the sky but the clouds continue to cover the horizon.
Last week we said #notmyEU, now we say #notenough.
The women of team Juncker.
Posted on 28 August 2014
[Brussels, 28 August 2014] The composition of the new European Commission is going to be confirmed at the meeting of the EU Heads of States this weekend. Almost all Member States have however already proposed their candidates for Commisioner and at the moment only 4 women have been designated out of 28. This means that not even 15% of the Commission would be women, less than half as many as in the outgoing Commission Barroso.
For the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) the question arises: is this the Europan Union we want?
The EWL, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), is simply outraged. This is a clear disgrace to democracy and equality between women and men; ideals that form the core values of the EU. Women’s rights organisations across Europe cannot accept that the future Commission is not representing the diversity of the European society, by obviously ignoring 50% of the population. The EWL and its members say loud and clear: “No thank you! This is not our European Union”.
We demand from European governments, in particular Member States which have never appointed a woman as a Commissioner*, to fulfil their obligation with regards to the EU’s core values and to contribute to a gender equal Commission.
We call on the future president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker to ensure that the final composition of the Commission will represent what European citizens, both women and men ask for: a democratic, gender equal and sustainable European voice.
We also call on the future president to express his genuine political will to achieve equality between women and men in Europe and appoint a European Commissioner for women’s rights and gender equality. This is an essential step to guarantee more visibility to the active role of women and their right to be equal to men within a society based on democracy, social justice, human rights and dignity. Moreover, as there is room to appoint a Commissioner responsible for fish, why not appoint one for women’s rights?
Join our social media campaign and share your outrage with your governements and your followers using the hashtags #notmyEU, #5050campaign, #TenOrMore
*Member States that have never put forward a woman for the position of European Commissioner
Posted on 4 July 2014
The final conference of the EWL 50/50 and Parity Democracy for Europe Campaign: No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality!
Hosted by MEP Ulrike Lunacek, with a video message from Gloria Steinem, American feminist, journalist, social and political activist.
This event will address the outcomes of the 2014 European Parliament elections from a gender perspective and aims to evaluate the impact of the Parity Democracy and EWL 50/50 Campaign.
Newly elected MEPs, governmental bodies, academics, NGOs and journalists will find answers to questions such as: How to ensure elected women are in top positions within the European Parliament? How to mainstream gender equality within the Media? And how to ensure the diversity of women within politics?
With a keynote speech by US speaker Jessica N. Grounds, former Executive Director and Co-Founder of Running Start. She is also the founder and principal strategist for Solid Grounds Strategy, a firm she created to consult women candidates who run for office for the first time.
Date: 9 July 13h < 18h (Starting with a network lunch)
Venue : European Parliament Brussels - Altiero Spinelli Building ROOM A1 G-3
To attend the event, please register via the form below.
Please contact Gina Horst at ✉email@example.com ; 02/210 04 41 or Serap Altinisik at ✉firstname.lastname@example.org ; 02/210 04 27 with any questions and requests for further information.
Posted on 30 June 2014
[Brussels, 30 June 2014] By the end of last week, the Council of Ministers finally decided to nominate Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission. Following the democratic decision taken by the European voters, giving the majority to the European People’s Party, it was a necessary step. But having now nominated a man as the President of the Commission one of the most influential positions at the EU institutions, we urge the Member States to use the opportunity to establish an equal representation of women and men in EU institutions by equally appointing women and men to the other 30 top-positions of the Union: 28 Commissioners, President of the Parliament and President of the Council of Ministers as well as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
As Parity is one of European Women’s Lobby (EWL) main demands of the 50/50 campaign, we continue urging national governments to propose one women and one man for each Commissioner position, as well as for the Presidency of the Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Presidency of the European Parliament. The political groups inside the Parliament do have the same responsibility: ensuring gender parity in the nomination of chairpersons within Committees, as well as in the composition of the Bureaus.
Especially in times of crisis, where trust and credibility are at stake with regards to the EU and its institutions, we need a European Union that represents its societal diversity, including parity between women and men. Furthermore the EU needs a strong message to back women’s rights and gender equality which are undergoing a backlash in many ways across the European society. The designated Commissioner Juncker sees an urgent need to establish a Commissioner for Internet but oversees the urgent need to include half of the population, namely women in the College of the Commission. The European Women’s Lobby asks for the instauration of a Commissioner position for gender equality and women’s rights which would give a strong signal for gender equality across Europe and beyond.
Let’s make sure that this can happen. Go for 50/50!
Posted on 12 June 2014
[Brussels, 4 June 2014] Europe’s small steps towards 50/50 Number of women in the European Parliament increases by 1,75%: at this pace it will take half a century until we reach gender parity
One week after the European Parliament elections, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and its members has been analysing the election results with regards to the representation of elected women elected to the European Parliament. The percentage of women in the EP, the only directly elected institution of the European Union (EU), stands at almost 37%, this is an increase of 1,75% in comparison to the European elections in 2009.
EWL Secretary General, Joanna Maycock, states “with this snail’s pace it will be another half a century before the European Parliament would reach gender parity in 52 years, despite the fact that women make up more than half the EU’s population.”
GROUPS ANALYSIS - EPP stays behind.
EWL-analysis based on preliminary results by europedecides.eu/results/
A two-speed Europe for parity
The election results show a clear picture with regards to political families’ commitments to reach parity. The conservative and far right parties are lagging behind in comparison to center and left parties. During its 5050 campaign “No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality” ahead of the EP election in 2014 the EWL demanded best-fit quota systems according to the national electoral systems. Evidence shows that whether a quota/parity system reaches its objectives depends largely on effective sanctions. A conclusion which has been confirmed through the results of the EU elections 2014. In this sense for example the S&D political family performed notably well with regards to women candidates elected into the EP with a percentage of 45.5%. On the contrary the share of women is only 30.4 % in the political family of EPP.
Voter apathy and the swing to the right jeopardises women’s rights
In large parts of Europe the low voter turnout and success of far right and populist parties represent a risk to the development and implementation of progressive anti-discrimination policies including women’s rights and gender equality.
The backward looking ideology and openly misogynist views of some of the parties and individuals elected represents a challenge to Europe’s relative success in tackling gender inequality. Joanna Maycock says “we are concerned that support for women’s organisations will also be further under threat as we have already observed in our work on austerity.”
There is still a chance for a real step forward
The political families within the European Parliament have a unique chance to change the image of European Politics out of touch with voters by having a leadership which better reflects the diversity of the electorate. The political groups must give women voters and elected women the same voice and weight, as their male counterparts. Political parties have the opportunity to bring change and parity to the EP by nominating women and man as candidates for the European Parliaments presidential elections.
The EWL demands from all political groups to ensure gender parity and non-gender biased portfolios when nominating and appointing MEPs for decision-making positions in the EP.
Women are not a minority, but represent the majority of the European society. Therefore, women must be represented in all portfolios of the decision-making positions in the European Parliament. EWL Fundraising Coordinator and Policy Officer, Serap Altinisik, remarks “gender can only be mainstreamed when women have a say and are involved at all levels of decision-making by chairing for example committees of the EP.”
For more information or interviews, please contact:
✉Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer email@example.com -+32 02/210 04 40
✉Serap Altinisik, EWL Policy Officer and Fundraising Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org -+32 02/210 04 27
Posted on 21 May 2014
[Brussels, 21 May 2014] The Swedish Women’s Lobby published yesterday a report on the voting behavior of current MEPs with regards to women’s rights. They furthermore asked the candidates what they are planning to do for women’s rights if elected in the upcoming elections.
Please find the press release, including the link to the report, in Swedish here.
If you don’t know yet for whom you should vote in these elections, the Lobby furthermore organises a debate with some of the candidates today in Stockholm, which you are more than welcome to join.