Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day! The date has been celebrated annually ever since the United Nations recognised it in 1975. Whilst in most EU countries it’s an unofficial holiday (though some women mark the day with protests), as of this year International Women’s Day will be celebrated as a public holiday in Berlin, Germany.

The theme of the 2019 International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, and its aims include celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality.  Unprecedented progress has been made over the last 44 years in all these areas. However, activists argue that there’s still a long way to go, particularly when it comes to equal representation as decision-makers with political power.

How many women are currently in politics and government? Worryingly, women continue to be under-represented in politics globally at all levels. Despite the fact that the number of female politicians has doubled in the last two decades, only 28.6% of sitting parliamentarians in Europe are women. Despite women making up 50% of the population, they still account for only 36.1% of the members of the European Parliament.

EU Member States leading the way in terms of gender-balanced governments (i.e. with no less than 40% of either gender) include Sweden, Finland, France, Spain and Germany. Particularly noteworthy is Spain, where as of 2018, for the first time since its transition to democracy, there are more women than men in the cabinet.  Those lagging behind include Malta, where women make up only 13% of the cabinet, and Cyprus and Hungary, where women account for a mere 7% of government members. Despite many measures being taken to tackle gender imbalances in politics, the rate of progress in most Member States is slow.

So, how can we get more female leadership in politics? According to the latest Eurobarometer survey on gender equality, 70% of Europeans are in favour of legal measures to ensure equality between women and men in politics. Yet some gender biases still endure, as a third of Europeans believe men are more ambitious than women and think that women aren’t as interested as men in decision-making roles in politics.

Belgium sets an interesting example, as equal representation of men and women on electoral lists has been in law since 2002. Meanwhile France has introduced a system of gender parity for departmental elections; voters are no longer offered a single candidate, but a pair of candidates, one female and one male, ensuring gender equality at the departmental level.

Should there be an equal number of men and women in government? How can we get more female leadership in politics? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (cc) Flickr – G20 Argentina

27 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    There should. But that requires both women to step up more and men to shut up more. Good luck.

  2. avatar

    Would such a thing be desirable? Having more women in politics sounds good, but forcing equal numbers isn’t the way to go about it. Should there be an equal gender ratio of school teachers, or petroleum engineers?

  3. avatar

    What about competence? Should start by that.

  4. avatar

    Gender does not qualify you for a job- competence does. There could be more women than men, more men than women or exactly 50:50, it doesn’t matter as long as they are there due to competence and not irrational social agendas

    • avatar

      How many men that currently in charge are exactly competent? So, why not have equal amount of incompetent women? lol

  5. avatar

    Maybe wheb the garbage collectors also have an equal number of both sexes

  6. avatar

    but for what? There competences are important not gender!

  7. avatar

    Of course not. In government should be the best people fitted for the job. It shouldn’t matter if they are all men, all women, half men or half women. This is what we should be aiming…the best people (no matter gender, race, sexuality or religion) for the job.

  8. avatar

    No, equal by law it’ s wrong, but equal and natural opportunities.

  9. avatar

    Stop editing rules for everything..freedom…..

  10. avatar

    Yes, I think that until people get used to having women in Government there should be quotas.

    • avatar

      Why does the genitals matter? Its whats between the ears, not in the pants, leaders dhould have merit..

  11. avatar

    Only as long as they are voted in and it isn’t “50% of all political spots have been set aside for one gender because the law says so and to hell with what people voted for if it comes out 60% of spots go to a certain gender”. I actually like the french system. It doesn’t undermine the voters choice.

  12. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should there be an equal number of men and women in government?

    I wrote this following response to a debate on a website in 2011. I have not changed my opinion. In fact I believe it more relevant today, eight years later.


    23/09/2011 at 8:23 pm

    @Lord Norton:

    Well, as the matriarchal societies of today, of which there are only a couple, the Minangkabau of West Sumatra and the Masuo in South East China, have little or no strength as nations, I have little draw on.

    However, the two separate peoples do show their males to be ineffective and unlikely to participate in the society in any productive way. This is the result of issues dominating centre ground of their female leaders not creating active stimulation to the male population. Therefore, they become dormant.

    If you look at the nearest modern day equivalent, Sweden, which has 51% female activity in government, it is already obvious the male gender is losing interest in participating in mathematical, scientific, and leadership matters.

    Which is the result of being ignored, side tracked and in the position of a continual perception of emasculation. As it grows more acceptable in that society to concentrate on predominantly female centric issues and the worth of the male, other than as pseudo females, child minding, baby care, house cleaning, sexual ambivalence, etc.. the more they disengage and the society will stagnate. Boys are already under achieving at an alarming rate. Of course Sweden is trying hard to hide the facts from their public and the world.

    This next link should have been placed below the paragraph to come, but I messed up.

    However, what is more likely to happen in Sweden is, they will be taken over by a male dominated insurgence of an immigrant section of the population, which will impose the will of their culture on the already weakened society they have moved into. As the masculine gender there has already lost the inclination or ability to assert their own will against the newly dominant culture, it is inevitable that this will take place and in the not too distant future. It is the natural instinct of the male population to lead, and therefore, it cannot do other.

    In fact, it is already taking place by the aggressive removal of the basic necessity for Democracy, freedom of speech.

    Which, of course, is rapidly spreading throughout the Scandinavian countries as we know from the recent Norwegian situation.

    And this is why I suggest, too many women creates weak government.

    Lord Norton
    27/09/2011 at 6:12 pm

    maude elwes: Rather tenuous, especially in seeking to generalise (in Europe)from an N of 1.
    maude elwes
    28/09/2011 at 8:49 am

    @Lord Norton:

    Do you have an alternative example that displays a thriving, content nation with a strong standing stable government, ruled by a majority of women? One where the men in that nation also perform to their full potential?

    Governments who have a heavy female content centre on peripheral minutia, such as inane legislation, ie: white paper should no longer be used in schools or as a general practice, because it does not instil a sense of racial ‘equality’ in the minds of the population. There must be multi colour paper in usage, including dark colours such as black and brown….? Additionally, children costumed as witches must be dressed in white or pink and fairies in black. And Guy Fawkes day should be replaced by an alternative celebration as the implications of British historical events denotes a leaning toward the raising of men as hero, even when their intention is sinister….. Here lies the dubious sensitivity of female priorities in power.

    And there are thousands of examples of this feeble calibre of unstable thought filtering into a society that shuns serious issues it desperately has to surmount.

    However, the decline of a nation has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of those blinkered men unable to function in their full capacity as leaders.

    Lord Norton
    28/09/2011 at 12:52 pm

    maude elwes: Until we get a government with a preponderance of women, we won’t know. However, if they were of the Margaret Thatcher variety, I suspect they would not focus on minor issues.

    You appear to blame men for what happens and women for what could happen.

    @Lord Norton

    That last line of mine was aimed at men who, in power, refuse to ignore idiocy and pick up the reigns of leadership and steer the nation to the vision they profess to have at election time.

    Comments are closed.
    About the Author
    Lord Norton
    …was appointed Professor of Government at the University of Hull in 1986 at the age of 35. In 1992 he also became Director of the Centre for Legislative


    Generally, in my view, the temperament of women, as well as their sense of innate fulfilment, does not provide the necessary instinct to become effective leaders in the long run. They lean heavily toward being surrounded by the masculine principle, in part because of their sense of inadequacy and need for constant reassurance. This results in surrounding males vying for power with competing objectives, creating a situation of indecisiveness in government objectives. An inability to hold firmly to intentions.

    I wonder where it is we witness such predicament today.

  13. avatar
    necula sorin

    Superficial understanding of the problem leads to (reverse) discrimination: “we must elect/ appoint/ hire more women, and less men”. I have witnessed a situation when a woman was hired for a post, although she only came out as the third after the job interview. But the organisation still hired her, because it already had too many men, and that “didn’t look good”. Neither fair, nor efficient. The real problem is how can we take gender out of the equation, completely. It should not matter at all whether one is a man or a woman. When the requirement for filling-in the gender box in a CV or a job application will disappear as being irrelevant, we will start seeing the proportion of men-women balancing itself, with no effort from anybody. Natural process.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ necula sorin

      Sounds good… However, as you write, superficial understanding of reality sets a problem for women. You cannot change the facts of nature. Women are not men. And I believe the majority, who enjoy being women, do not want to be lined up ready for trans opportunities. They have babies, menstruate, often causing serious physical setbacks in a working environment. They are also of physical weaker muscle ability and most likely have different perspectives on what life fulfilment is. Their priorities are quite interchangeable, along with changes in circumstance. The masculine sense of soul satisfaction is often not at all what women find uplifting. Men and women are very different psychologically and to deny this difference is discrimination, or, it could be considered ‘hate crime’. A hatred of the feminine gender as it truly is. To the point where they are persistently harassed in order to force them to assume a male like persona for tasks not suited to their sense of well being. It is relentless and without let up, because of ignorant supposition on behalf of politically correct musings, or, indoctrination by those in position of exploitation. Work covers many aspects of life not simply intellectual pursuit.

      In her biography, Margaret Thatcher, wrote, the greatest regret she had was not spending more time taking care of her children. She had neglected that side of her psyche to the point she felt deprived of fulfilment in old age. The male perspective, when having reached such heights in leadership, usually feels quite differently. He centres far more on what he was unable to achieve within his sphere.

  14. avatar
    Jurij Christopher Christopher Kofner

    The share of women and men in any organisation, i.e. including any government, should be decided solely by the professional competence of the individual. Any kind of affirmative action is against justice. And in politics it is also against democracy.

  15. avatar

    Gender or race does not matter. What matters is profession.

    More engineers, less lawyers. The overrepresentation of lawyers is the real problem.

  16. avatar

    Villains trump and saudi crown prince should not be in that picture. Or at least trump should be next to the saudi crown prince who he sided with in Khashoggi’s massacre. Decent nations’ leaders should eject the american and saudi clowns.

  17. avatar

    Capacity first, gender is second factor

  18. avatar

    There should be more competent persons……gender is not the main problem .

  19. avatar

    Those who answer competence first don’t get one fundamental problem: the system is rigged against women. Even if they are competent, they get excluded as they get closer to the top, because.. tatam.. those who decide the criteria for competence are men. Therefore the only way to change the unfairness embedded in the system is to have enough women at the top to impose a change on selection criteria, processes, and values. Surely there are women competent enough to take any job. But they must be given a chance, and the environment around them must be made in a way that it makes it attractive for both sexes to take part. Environments with a majority of men are bound to be designed by men and for men in a way that makes it more difficult for women to take part, even on an oil platform Aubrey. Although considering women tend to be more caring about the bigger picture and the planet, I would not be surprised if they stay away from petrol engineering anyway. Which is another reason to force more women in politics, we have a burning platform on our hands and CEOs of oil and car companies and high profile climate deniers all seem to be mostly men. It’s time to kick them out, fast.

  20. avatar

    Women should be more brave about that. Yes maybe ıt will be done some regulations about this subject but ıf there is no woman nominees what can be done?

  21. avatar

    Artificially making up a male and female composition means less competent people can enter the government on gender ground. This means also less good government. This is against the interest of the people as a whole. It is definitely correct that gender should not be the reason to discriminate woman from the workplace when all conditions are equal. However, offering more privilege itself is already against the principle of gender equality. Equality cannot be achieved narrowly by given more privilege to enter the job market, specifically the government. Instead, women should be facilitate to take care their children while working, or re-enter the job market when women are available. It is also important that gender should not be the reason to discriminate woman from career development.

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