European & International News

Improving gender equality and women’s representation in politics

[Brussels, April 2022] Since the end of 2021, the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) has been working on a legislative initiative report (INL) on reforming the EU Electoral Law. The text will be voted in Plenary at the beginning of May. The European Women’s Lobby believes this presents a significant opportunity to improve women’s political representation ahead of the 2024 European elections and has called on the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to include ambitious measures to ensure women can equally access decision-making positions.

In the EU, women make up only 34% of ministers, 33% of parliamentarians in Member States and among MEPs, 39% are women. Women remain persistently under-represented while they make up more than half of the population. Much more must be done to tackle vertical and horizontal segregation and ensure that all women have equal opportunities to enter governing bodies and that women’s interests and concerns are on the political agenda.

It is time to abide by the EU’s legally binding goal of equality between women and men under Articles 2, 3, and 8 of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU must adopt mandatory measures to provide women with equal opportunity to access decision-making positions including entering the European Parliament, for instance by:

  • Making gender equality a fundamental and binding principle of European elections thereby reinforcing the EU’s democracy and implementing article 2 of the EU Treaty;
  • Establishing mandatory parity in candidate lists both for national and Union-wide constituency lists. Those lists should have an equal number of male and female candidates;
  • Ensuring female candidates are placed at electable places on national and Union-wide constituency lists by making compulsory the use of methods to alternate female and male candidates such as zipped lists;
  • Spelling out the obligation for political parties to nominate both a woman and a man as lead candidates.

To read our recommendations in full, read our Advocacy Paper:

Current inequalities are deeply rooted in unequal power relations. Materialising equality between women and men requires proactivity.

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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