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The European Parliament’s report on the 2014 European Elections - A Missed Opportunity to Promote Gender Equality?

[Brussels 7 August, 2013] A resolution under the title "Improving the practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014" was adopted on the 4th of July, during the plenary session of the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg.

The report, drafted by the Committee of Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and whose rapporteur was Andrew Duff, is calling national and European political parties and member states of the European Union (EU) to contribute to the democratisation and visibility of the 2014 European elections, which are of high importance since they are the first ones after the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, the Treaty that augmented the powers of the EP.

Among other recommendations, the national political parties are asked to press for a higher proportion of women on the lists of candidates. More specifically, the resolution:

"Calls on the member states and the political parties to press for a higher proportion of women on the lists of candidates and, as far as possible, to encourage the drafting of lists that ensure equal representation".

If one takes a look at the process of the adoption of the report, it becomes evident that a great opportunity to strengthen gender equality in the European sphere of decision-making, by reaffirming that there is a strong and commonly agreed political will behind its pursue, was missed. A variety of amendments were proposed that, if adopted, would have made the demand for equal representation much more credible.

An indicative picture can be given by the following suggested amendments, which are only some of the ones proposed:

Amendments proposed by MEP Zita Gurmai (S&D) and MEP Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL) included:

C b. whereas progress towards a gender balance in political decision-making has been noted, much remains to be done.

3 b. [The European Parliament] encourages the political parties at all levels to ensure a balance between women and men in their respective lists of candidates notably by avoiding to have more than two candidates of the same gender in succession.

This would have clearly resulted in a so-called zipper system, which guarantees that women are also placed on the top of the candidate lists.

Amendment proposed by MEP Sandrine Bélier (Greens/EFA):

1 a. [The European Parliament] urges all political parties to ensure that women and men are represented in equal proportions on their lists of candidates.

It is clear that amendments like the aforementioned would suggest and promote a rather explicit course of action towards a political entity where women and men are equally represented. Promoting democracy cannot be de-linked by gender equality in the decision-making bodies. Women represent half of the population in the EU and the political arena must depict this clearly.

The EWL insists on the fact that, even though the EP’s composition provides an example where progress has been made (the percentage of women MEPs is 35%), especially when compared with national parliaments, efforts should be made to remove all obstacles women are facing when running for office.

This reasoning coincides with both the 50/50 Campaign of the EWL and the European Political Mentoring Programme, which brings together mentors (MEPs) and mentees (women with a migrant background or from an ethnic minority, living in the EU) interested in running for the 2014 elections. We all can and should play our part in promoting true parity in the only election-based institution of the EU.

To view the full report, please click here.

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