The EU prides itself on having equality between women and men as one of its founding values, but how much do the EU’s values match up with reality? Women continue to be under-represented in European politics at all levels. Only 30% of sitting parliamentarians in Europe are women. Despite women making up 50% of the population, they still account for only 38% of the members of the European Parliament.

So, how can we get more female leadership in politics? Belgium sets an interesting example here, 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.

What do our readers think about the topic? We had a comment sent in from Michael, who told us that he would like there to be an equal number of men and women in political leadership positions, “but that requires both women to step up more and men to shut up more,” he says. Is Michael right? How can gender parity be reached?

We also had a comment come in from Simona, who says “until people get used to having women in government there should be quotas.”

Next up, Matej remarks: “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.”

Finally, Yannick fundamentally disagrees with Matej, arguing that “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 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.” Do you share Yannick’s perception?

To get a response, we put these comments to Francesca Cavallo, best-selling author of the book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women” and a Friends of Europe 2019 European Young Leader (EYL). You can see her responses in the video above.

For another perspective, in 2018, we spoke to the German journalist Birgit Kelle, who is against women quotas. At the time, she told us:

I believe that the reasons why there are few women in leadership positions are very complex. The main reason is that women first entered the labour market later. So that’s purely a historical reason, in that we have lived in a man’s world for a long time. It also certainly has less to do with role models, and more to do with the different priorities of men and women. We see that even with affirmative action, women do not necessarily want top positions. Even in countries like Norway, where women benefit from affirmative action, it is no easier to fill vacancies with women. Of course, we are influenced by role models or so-called stereotypes, but we can also see in Germany and Europe that we are ruled by powerful women. These women have not been deterred by stereotypes, so we need to broach the issue of why women are really in less senior positions. It is a novelty that women work in the labour market. Therefore, without a law or quotas, I assume we will see a very different situation in 20 years. We will by then be 50% represented.

How can we encourage more women to go into politics? Why are only 30% of parliamentarians in Europe women, and how can we grow that number? 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: Photo by Marius Oprea on Unsplash
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

8 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    I really wonder!

    Should women wish to go into politics or do whatever in Euroland- surely nothing & nobody in the 27 ever so happy, disciplined, and exemplary Euro nations will/can stop them! Ever asked each & everyone in question?

    What could the invisible force be? Why is the figure not exactly between 49,99999% and 50.00001%? Shame for failing so miserably!

    What is the attraction of politics? To parade another achievement & prescribed political quota reached? While having a debt-to-GDP ratio breaching the 100% mark instead of the 60% prescribed/agreed limit? That’s unimportant!

    I forgot that Euroland has flexible rules, and no one has to comply- a comparative law! But very serious when it might be EU women’s desires or just their personal choice! I wouldn’t know either.

    Now, may I point out that the EU architects & DE think tankers made a big error in their evaluations. According to science, all forgot that we have to consider 3 genders- not two- namely: intersex, women, & lastly the downtrodden men on the run!

    Most human beings have dreams- like to become millionaires or inherit a fortune, be forever young, healthy, clever, attractive, and beautiful, have power & authority, show off or live forever etc.!

    Please, just legislate quotas- or not get elected next time by all believers! Where has the Midas touch gone?

  2. avatar

    Quotas can break the cycle.

  3. avatar

    Arnt we gender neutral nowdays ? we are just people

  4. avatar

    To be encouraged!
    But, unfortunately, it requires so much of the free time a person has for political involvement. This extra time that not everyone has it…

  5. avatar

    I’d say it would make sense for the residents of a certain area to get it for free as they pay taxes in that area any way.

  6. avatar
    JT HK

    Don’t mislead the citizen, Ardern is a very capable woman. It is ridiculous to think that she cannot even handle a small family with only 1 child when a puppet can raise up to 7 children. Her resignation should have nothing to do with woman goes politics. All non-West analysts and even the New Zealanders considered that she is forced to resign due to US political pressure. It is very like that she refused to allow nuclear submarine of Australia to pass New Zealand’s water so as to block the US dissemination of nuclear weapon to South Pacific Ocean. US appeared to be leaving West Pacific and flee southward. Australia should be the new chosen one taking over Japan and South Korea.

  7. avatar
    JT HK

    When women want to take over the role of men, the world would lose harmony and turn to chaotic. Of course, there are always women and who can play better politics than men. Yet, to encourage women to go into politics would facilitate stupid and incapable women to enter political leadership as Europe is confronting now.

  8. avatar
    B G

    Don’t fall for the most reactionary trap. All people have the same rights, independent of race, heritage and sex. So asking for a womens quota is in fact nothing different than asking for a quota on religion.

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