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Binding and voluntary measures needed to achieve parity in politics

[Brussels, 26 January 2012] Member States should consider introducing legislative measures such as positive action measures to achieve parity between sexes in political decision making, said the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliement in a report on women in political decision-making adopted on Wednesday 25 January 2012.

"It is important to note that women’s representation in political decision-making has not been increased in recent years, but has developed disappointingly. We need both binding and voluntary measures in order to ensure equal representation of men and women", said Mrs. Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI) who drafted the report.

Although the equal participation of women and men in power and decision-making is strongly promoted, parity has not been achieved and the women’s representation in political decision making has stagnated in recent years. Women constitute for 24 % in national parliaments across the EU, with women accounting for only 23 % of ministers overall.

Quotas and sanctions

National parties should implement quota systems in those electoral systems where applicable, and apply rank-ordering rules to electoral candidate lists for regional, national and EU elections.

The best way of improving women’s participation in politics is women candidates alternating with men at the top of electoral lists, said the report adopted by 26 votes in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions.

Effective sanctions for non-compliance should also be defined and enforced. For example, Member States should link and set targets based on parity for the political parties as a prerequisite for funding.

Some political parties in 13 EU Member States have already introduced voluntary party quotas for elections.

Women in Commission, Council and Parliament

Parliment, Commission and Council should commit to meeting the target of parity in all their internal decision making bodies and leading positions, through quota systems and other types of positive actions. The Commission has never been chaired by a woman.

"I wish to see equal representation of men and women for each leading position of the Parliament as I wish to see both sexes apply for the top posts of the EU. I also wish to see each Member State nominate a male and female candidate for election as European Commissioner", said Pietikäinen.

Equal representation vital for democracy

The equal representation of women and men in political decision making is a vital requirement for the functioning of a democratic society and the persistent underrepresentation of women undermines the legitimacy of decision-making both at the EU and the national level.

Sources: European Parliament FEMM committee and EPP

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