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Women’s organisations dispute ‘good news’ of nomination of nine women to new Commission and point to gender stereotyping in the distribution of the portfolios

Over the last few weeks, the 27 men and one woman who make up the European Council have been heartily congratulating themselves on their supposed sensitivity to equality between women and men and the fairness they demonstrated in appointing a number of women to top positions in the Council of the European Union and Commission. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), representing more than 2500 women’s associations from across Europe, feels that congratulations are not quite in order.

‘This is not at all a result to be proud of’, says Myria Vassiliadou, EWL Secretary General. ‘Even this low figure of one-third represents a grudging and last minute response.’

A week prior to the 19-20 November 2009 Summit, the number of women to be nominated to the European Commission (EC) stood at three out of 20. Those countries who were still sorting out their nominations were suddenly in the spotlight and under sustained pressure to right the balance by choosing women. This pressure came from the EWL and its members and other activists for women’s rights, from President Barroso and also from the European Parliament (EP). The EWL joined forces with female MEPs and other campaigns such as ‘Gender Balanced Commission’ to demand equality in the EC and a veto from the EP of any Commission that did not contain at the very least one third female nominees.

‘Gender equality is one of the fundamental values and aims of the EU but it is clear that the current system of nominations to the Commission is undemocratic, un-transparent and fails to respect this basic principle’, says EWL President Brigitte Triems. ‘Appeals to a sense of democratic duty are evidently not enough. It is time we had binding measures to ensure equal representation of women and men within the European Institutions.’

With one third women in the Commission, the EU’s Executive performs better in terms of gender balance than most national European governments, where the average is 22%.


EWL disputes good news of 9 women in new COM PRESS RELEASE 07 12 09

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