The European Parliament currently has 31 % of the seats filled with female MEPs. This figure made Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström recently question the representativeness of this potentially most democratic European institution: “Women account for 52% of the EU population. They must have equal representation. How can we speak of representative democracy when half the population is under-represented?”.
“When men say they cannot find a suitable women, I would say: you should have your eyes checked.”
With the elections for Parliament only one month away, this is the time to finally achieve a 50/50 representation in the hemicycle. In order to achieve this, it would help if more women would vote and that they would vote for a woman. But would that do the trick? To start, we would also need a good representation of women on the voting lists. A glance at the lists of the seven Dutch parties that are currently represented in the European Parliament, however, does not lead to much optimism: only two parties have a woman as a frontrunner….
Dutch Commission Kroes is equally pessimistic. She would like to see two of the six top positions that will or have been opened this year on EU (President of the European Commission, EP-President, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and in case the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, President of the European Council) and NATO-level occupied by a woman but said this week: “You need to have about eternal life before half of the politicians is a woman”. Assuming the 67-years old Commissioner does not have eternal life, wouldn’t it not be nice she would actually be able to witness equal representation in her lifetime? Kroes said to find it strange that there are not even women in the picture for the position of EP President: “When men say they cannot find suitable women, I would say: you should have your eyes checked”. The link to the interview is here for those who read Dutch.
If you want to support this cause, sign the “Females in Front” petition that is about the four different leaders of the European Union that will be appointed during the next 12 months only (not about NATO). The humble aim of this campaign is that one of them should at least be a woman.
You can also sign the 50/50 petition that aims at getting women on those high EU-posts as well but is also about “putting pressure right now on all national political parties and require them to ensure the equal representation and ranking of women and men on their electoral lists and to include gender equality as a priority in their programmes.”
“The reason why women have not yet achieved equality, despite the fact that they have been trying for decades, is the idea that they can do it by themselves, that they do not need men.”
Women’s Rights Committee Chair Anna Záborská recently gave us an explanation for this male-domination: “The reason why women have not yet achieved equality, despite the fact that they have been trying for decades, is the idea that they can do it by themselves, that they do not need men.”
In order to achieve the 50/50 representation we indeed need the help of men. They are certainly not unwilling or unintersted as a Eurobarometer poll showed in February that 83% of women and 76% of men agree that women can bring a different perspective to politics. So we can gently ask them to vote for a woman but will it be enough?
Perhaps men do need an incentive and we can learn something from the women’s rights movement in Kenya who announced on 1 May to boycot sex for a week in order to enforce better rights (today they will be able to take stock). The sad situation of women in Kenya cannot be compared to the situation of women in the European Union, but we may copy some of their good action practices and… improve them on the way…..
So, tell your bed partner as a little reminder that if on election night it seems there will be no equal representation of women in the European Parliament, there will be no sex during the whole summer (until the next elections would be better but that may have devastating consequences for Europe’s gloomy demographic crunch) .
And finally a plea to the 368 male MEPs that will be elected for the next term: follow in the footsteps of MEPs Raül Romeva i Rueda , Giovanni Rivera and Konrad Szymański : elect twenty lucky devils among yourselves to join the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committee. They have plenty of work!
With thanks to Lena and Raffaella for their suggestions.
P.S. Still have not read enough about this topic. Go here, even if it were only to check out the great illustration