Importance of women's political empowerement - Gurmai Zita

Importance of women's political empowerement - Gurmai Zita

Importance of women’s

political empowerement



Budapest, Ljubljana, Tallinn - 2012

Importance of women’s

political empowerement



Budapest, Ljubljana, Tallinn - 2012

Importance of women’s political empowerement



Daša Šašic Šilovic

Chair, CEE Network for Gender Issues


Zita Gurmai

Founder, Foundation for Real Equality of Women

A special thanks to Attila Benedek, Xavier Mirel and Roland Tátraházi.

Printed in Hungary by Alfadat Press Kft.

© 2012


Importance of women's political empowerment


Foreword of the editor................................................................................................................... 5


Foreword of the publisher ............................................................................................................. 9

Besima BORIC

Importance of women's political empowerment in the light of new economic

and social challenges: Experiences form Bosnia and Herzegovina ........................................... 13


Women’s empowerment ............................................................................................................. 19


Women’s role in decision making process .................................................................................. 25


Political empowerment of women through digitalisation ............................................................. 31


CEE Network workshop in the framework of the PES Progressive Convention ......................... 35


Importance of women's political empowerment in the light of new economic

and social challenges ................................................................................................................. 41


Being a young woman in Croatia today – obstacles and challenges.......................................... 47

Thomas MAES

Overcoming gender under representation or the microphone effect .......................................... 51


We need to be the change we call for in our societies ............................................................... 57




Rovana PLUMB

Importance of women's political empowerment in light of the new economic

and social challenges ................................................................................................................ 61


Women in politics........................................................................................................................ 67


Women’s voice to be heard ........................................................................................................ 73


Forever assistants? Challenges of women’s political empowerment ......................................... 79

Patrizia TOIA

Greater equality for all ................................................................................................................ 85


The importance of political empowerment of women ................................................................. 91


Summary of major activities of the CEE Network (1994-2011) .................................................. 95

Closing remarks ........................................................................................................................ 101

Annex I

Members of the Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

in the European Parliament in the 7th parliamentary term (2009-2014) ................................... 103

Annex II

Charts and figures .................................................................................................................... 113

Daša Šašić Šilović

Chair, CEE Network for Gender Equality,

Associated member of the PES Women

Daša Šašić Šilović

Foreword of the editor

Importance of women's political empowerment

Gender equality has, fortunately, been politically and socially broadly espoused. But do parties

across the political spectrum, from left to right, have the same understanding of gender equality

and the position of women in political decision-making? Is the devil in the details?

The meeting organized by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and CEE

Network for Gender Issues Budapest Office focused on innovative strategies practiced by

progressive women’s movements in Europe. The objective was to unveil the differences, i.e.

address the neo-conservative backlash affecting the status of women in public and political life

and identify viable social democratic alternatives. One of the key issues was whether the

participation of women in political life and in key political decision making bodies can make a


This is of particular importance in today’s difficult financial and economic environment which is

eroding democracy and negatively impacting the European acquis of equality and social justice,

and the enormous political, economic and social gains of post-Second World War Europe.

The situation demands for the socialist and social-democratic parties in Europe to urgently

advocate for the solutions formulated in the PES Manifesto through a renewed activism and

political leadership of the rising social civil society movements. The European political left

needs to stay true to its roots - it should fight for the social welfare state model adapted to the

21 st century, which is now needed more than ever; it cannot renounce the basic tenets of

equality, social and economic justice; it cannot turn its back to the needs of women and the

strife of the unemployed; it has to invest in the youth as the bearers of the future, in Europe and

in the world.

It also has to clearly state who is responsible for the present crisis and what ideological

concepts have brought about the financial collapse with severe repercussions for the

population. Blaming the social welfare state, camouflaging the real causes created by unbridled

and unregulated capitalism and corporate greed, is an easy cop out.

A shrinking economic and social space impacts political responses. Recent years have seen

the political space for women in politics also shrinking. Our political response has to focus on

strengthening participatory and inclusive democracy, stronger internal party democracy and

participation of women and youth at highest party levels and decision-making, mainstreamed

gender equality and parity in party culture, structures, practice (positive measures and

enforcement of quotas) and political solutions to the present crisis. Above all this is the moment



Foreword of the editor

to forge broad social coalitions.This was the way how for example in Slovenia, in the last

election, the share of women in the parlaiement has finally been risen from 13% to 32%.

Everywhere in Europe stereotypes on women in politics remain very strong. It is of crucial

importance to create women role models, especially in executive branches of power by

lobbying left parties to give women ministers prominent portfolios when in government or in

shadow governments.

This publication is in essence providing examples of practice, case studies and some innovative

responses to a dialogue which is to be continued...

Zita Gurmai

Member of the European Parliament,

President of PES Women

Zita Gurmai

Importance of women's political empowerment

Foreword of the publisher

As we have entered this new year, which will be crucial for the future of Europe, we thought that

it would be a good occasion to look back to what happened in 2011, and to take stock of the

activities the CEE Network organized last year, bearing in mind the many challenges ahead of


Among those activities, we decided to put a special attention to the workshop, organised by the

CEE Network for Gender Issues Budapest office, that took place on the 26 November 2011, in

the framework of the Convention of the Party of the European Socialists. It focused on “The

Importance of women's political empowerment in light of new economic and social challenges”.

This first Convention of the PES was the occasion to bring together during two days

progressive politicians, trade-unions, NGOs, associations, academics and artists, with

innovative debates, workshops, panels and cultural activities. I am very proud to say that this

Convention was a real success. And I am also proud to say that our workshop met with the

same success, whether regarding the quality of the interventions and the debates, or the

audience, as the room was full.

When a few months ago we were presented with the opportunity to organise such a workshop,

it lead us to a long brainstorming, in order to decide which priorities in gender issues we should

put forward. In particular when facing new social and economic challenges brought by the

current crisis, and the resulting transformations of our European societies. We know that this

crisis reflects harshly on women, for multiple reasons we have already debated in our last

year’s publication. However, despite this now commonly acknowledged assessment, not much

has been done to curb this issue, in those times dominated by austerity policies.

It has also been said that this crisis could bring new opportunities to women, along with the

societal changes we are experiencing. That is why, in times where the voice of the less

favoured is harder to hear than ever, we believe that empowering women, especially in the

political field, in one of the solutions to make women’s voices count. Indeed, if much progress

has been made in some countries, and in many progressive and socialist parties, a snapshot of

women’s situation in European politics shows us that much remains to be done, and that the

overall situation is far from ideal. In addition, Europe is facing a resurgence of nationalism and

populism, which threatens the progress we achieved over the last decades.

So we decided to hold this debate, to discuss the possible innovative strategies progressive

women in the EU and in non-EU countries are using in order to block this conservative



Foreword of the publisher

backlash, and create viable social democratic alternatives. How can women's empowerment,

representation and active participation in politics contribute to reversing this trend? How can we

encourage our youth, the next generation, to take over the fight for a fairer and more genderbalanced

society? And what about the situation of Central and Eastern European countries,

when eight years after the first wave of accession to the European Union, they still tend to be

side-lined in the European debate? And what about the candidate – or soon to be – countries to

the EU accession, from which many of our panellists are coming from?

I believe that we succeeded in launching this progressive brainstorming, and we came up with

some innovative proposals to fuse the debate. Of course, this is only a first step, and now it is

up to you, to us, to act in our own countries, parties, associations, to make sure that speeches

will be followed by act.

In addition to the contributions of the panellists present at the workshop, we decided, in order to

enlarge and enrich the debate, to ask the opinion of several other prominent female politicians.

Therefore I hope that this publication will encourage you to keep this debate alive, and I wish

you a successful year 2012.

Besima Boric

Member of Parliament,

Social Democratic Party (SDP)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Besima Boric

Importance of women's political empowerment

Experiences form Bosnia and


Importance of women's political empowerment in

the light of new economic and social challenges

I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in the last 20 years has been put through dramatic

events and it is still striving for its existence, struggling for the redefinition of its Constitution and

as well as the fulfilment of requirements defined in the accession process to the EU.

In my Party, SDP BiH, we succeeded to introduce a formal framework and required statutory

protective and positive measures so as to ensure increased presence of women in party

bodies, electoral lists and all decision-making positions. In practice the outcomes of this

approach are assessed to be only partly successful. However, it is appalling to see that out of

12 ministers in the new government of the Federation of BiH there is only one female minister,

who is from my own party! This is a worrying indicator that gender equality is still regarded as

an unimportant issue, sidelined to a parallel railway track, while the presence of women in the

executive government is only symbolic.

Still, I would like to share with you the experience how we succeeded to turn the focus of the

politics of the Social Democratic Party in BiH and to reorient it towards economic and social

issues mainstreaming gender in all what we are doing.

For a long time we have been criticized for not dealing with the problems of workers, being

accused, rightly, that we have neglected the issues concerning their rights and interests.

Understanding the rightly addressed criticism, two women, party activists, initiated and got the

consent of the party leadership, to establish a Forum of trade union activists. Nobody interfered,

as nobody believed that something important could come out of it. Our focus was on speaking

up for workers and articulating burning labour issues. Also, we were dedicated to establishing a

party-trade union dialogue, and identifying good common solutions for different problems that

workers faced. Conducting various advocacy activities and with the support of our MPs, we

make an impact by amending the laws and put pressure for their effective implementation.

After four years of burdensome work, along with a number of important formal decisions taken

by our party bodies we have succeeded to put this new priority on the agenda our party,

namely, to speak up for male and female workers, both employed and unemployed, with or



Experiences form Bosnia and Herzegovina

without children, with high as well as low education level. This became a crucial issue for our


Applying a strategic approach we succeeded in getting equal support from men and women for

this new way of work. This was a great step forward. We applied gender mainstreaming in

every issue we were dealing with. Implementing activities, which were not directly connected to

gender equality, we used the opportunity to include the gender equality aspect with no fuss or

opposition whatsoever. Our experience is that this is the simplest and the most effective way to

do it. The essential thing is to be aware about gender and what effects different actions have for

men and women, as well as the practical skills and knowledge how to integrated gender in

concrete activities. We did it by selecting topics; by using gender sensitive language; by making

sure that equal number of men and women participated in each dialogue; by engaging female

keynote speakers, analysts and activity participants etc. Step by step the number of women in

the Presidency of the Forum of Trade Union as well as the number of female leaders at the

local level increased. Through the work in this Forum Social Democratic Party of BiH started

focusing on the issues of importance for everday life of ordinary people. Forum was also a

valuable contribution before and after national elections, which resulted in an election victory.

After general elections in 2010 and before the forming of the government in the BiH Federation

we have also organized a big conference with the title: “Social justice as a precondition for

economic development” with a special panel on “Women in the labour market in BiH”. Half of all

speakers in the panels were women.

This Forum was crucial for the formulation of specific policies offered by the SDP BiH at general

elections in 2010. These policies naturally integrated a range of issues, which would be

traditionally considered as “women issues”: maternity protection, disabled women,

unemployment of young women and many others. At the recent Congress of the SDP BiH the

party accepted a special Resolution, which was dealing with these issues.

Thanks to this Forum, governmental Platform of the Federation of BiH mentions among other

the following: just solution for paid maternal leave, plan to combat violence against women,

integration of male and female disabled persons in labour market, social protection of

unemployed etc.

Strongly intensified contacts between party and Trade Union leaders, resulted in the TU open

support to the Platform of the new coalition government for the BiH Federation, made of four

parties and led by SDP BiH. This support was later on formalized in a Protocol of cooperation

between the new Federal government and the Federation of Free TU.

And last but not least, the activists of the Forum decided to stay in close contact with the people

also after the elections. We visit our constituencies and discuss with the people the plans and

the moves of our government specifically concerning pressing economic and social challenges.

Importance of women's political empowerment

We are told that this is not what a ruling party would routinely do. We decided to do this to show

that we are not like all other parties. We were surprised how people were astonished and how

much they have appreciated that we were willing to talk to them in peace, without the preelectoral

haste and rush. Our experience is that this approach is very important and very

effective and that we, women, are ready to do this sort of work. Our role in the Forum is now to

follow up how our party promises are implemented. We found that this is one of the best ways

to restore people’s trust in politics and at the same time, to keep our party on track, making it to

work on the issues of the utmost importance for our citizens, both women and men.

More information:


Sylvie Guillaume

Member of the European Parliament,

Vice-President of the S&D Group

Sylvie Guillaume

Women’s empowerment

Importance of women's political empowerment

"When will equality for women in politics be achieved?" That is the question that remains

unanswered in the 21st century.

Women leading a country today in the world can still be counted on the fingers of the hand.

Though they are now most often voters and eligible, few of them are ultimately elected. On this

point the French situation is very illustrative of a long-lasting phenomenon that still continues

and against which affirmative action must finally be implemented, a challenge with all the more

acutely on the eve of important dates in France and hope to see the left regaining power after

too many years of domination of the right.

If new laws to move towards political equality have helped to make progress...

At this stage, and despite progress in the last 50 years, France is ranked 18th largest in the EU

27 and in 65th place worldwide for the proportion of women MPs, behind some countries,

however, considered more macho, less democratic and less developed. At this rate, parity

would be reached in the Assemblée nationale in a quarter century!

Indeed, if all women became voters, they are still too few to be elected or to hold high political

mandates. Thus, inequalities remain, despite the constitutional reform made in 1999 by Lionnel

Jospin's government, under which "the law favours equal access of women and men to

electoral mandates and elective functions", followed since 2000 by legislation aiming at

implementing the parity principle for candidacies. This includes, for all elections by ballot, for

municipalities with more than 3500 inhabitants, 50% of candidates of each sex. Regarding

general elections, the law provides for financially penalizing political parties that have not

submitted the same proportion of male and female candidates.

However, the results expected from the introduction of parity in politics are still very theoretical,

while some do not hesitate to flout these rules.

This is the case with the UMP candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, who presented himself in 2007 as

women's rights defender, and it is this very same party that in 2012, certainly gripped by a

fantasmatic fear of seeing his female candidates fail much more than his male candidates, that

takes the risk of being sanctioned for non-compliance with the parity rules in the legislative

elections with only 28% of nominations given to women, which could earn him a particularly

salty addition to around 4 million euro.



Women’s empowerment

More generally, it perfectly illustrates the bitter observation of a serious failure of the right wing,

with women working five times more than men in part-time, with pay gaps of 10% at a level of

equal skill and working time, and who are disproportionately represented in poorly paid and low

skilled jobs.

Women have certainly taken their place in the economy, but French society remains strongly

marked by a patriarchal mentality that makes the feminist struggle even more necessary than

one could have imagined. So far, it has been asked to women to become "men like the others",

mainly by adopting rules of domination. But this can absolutely not be considered as the true

achievement of real equality between women and men.

... we must go further to demonstrate greater political will and help mentalities changing

Yet there are alternatives to ensure a real political equality and enable women in practise - and

not virtually anymore - to participating actively in political decision-making, without family life

constituting an obstacle in achieving this goal.

But to reach this objective, a political voluntarism is needed, that voluntarism is embodied

today for French citizens by our Socialist candidate, François Hollande. In the name of equality

he has committed in the Charter for equality to suspend funding of parties that would not

present 50% of female candidates at elections.

Other measures could also help us in achieving this political equality soon. These would include

changes in voting procedures. Indeed, France is characterized, unlike its European neighbours,

with a broad resort to plurality voting in two rounds, a system that ultimately results in indirect

discrimination against women because it encourages local leaders and incumbents. The

proportional ballot of list values clearly more parity in compliance with a strict alternation

between men and women and this is why it should be more widely used, especially for elections

like those of the Assemblée nationale or Sénat.

Another interesting approach would be that of non-overlapping mandates and functions, mainly

monopolized by men, and their time limitation, to make room for a renewal of the political class

that would bring out not only women but also young people and people from ethnic minorities,

also victims of a severe under-representation.

In the end, behind the political equality we defend, it is for us, socialist women and men, to work

for gender equality in general.

Without these changes in political representation, how can the way we look now on the public,

economic, social or domestic sphere be changed? More women in politics are certainly a

guarantee of increased attention to workplace equality, a revised task sharing or a greater fight

against gender stereotypes from an early age.

Importance of women's political empowerment

This is the message of change that Social Democrats should seek to embody in Europe

nowadays. The challenges are huge but they are worth being met because it is anything but a

rear-guard, on the contrary.

More information:


Zita Gurmai

Member of the European Parliament,

President of PES Women

Zita Gurmai

Importance of women's political empowerment

Women’s role

in decision making process

When we are trying to find answers on how women can strengthen their positions in political

fields, how women can be encouraged to take part in elections, stand up for their positions and

participate in making decisions which benefit their interests, I think we all agree that it is crucial

to put forward concrete proposals on how to keep women’s voices heard, how to ameliorate

women’s situation in the labour market and how to maximize their resources across sectors and

regions and not to undo the work we have achieved so far.

I am not telling a secret when I say that women suffer from discrimination on the labour market

but also in the political fields when it comes to decision-making.

As long as the economic crisis continues and ordinary citizens are being hit throughout Europe,

it is essential to remember that women are the main victims in the long run.

But unfortunately neither decision-makers nor policy

shapers are doing a proper gender assessment to

acknowledge this.

This is why we need to increase the number of women

decision-makers: to ensure that women have a chance

to decide about questions concerning their own future

and particular problems.

This is why we are here today: to work towards finding it


I don't want to deeply influence our discussion but let

me set out three general points that I would like to offer

as guidelines to steer the conversation - but only if you

take them up.

First of all, it is important to strengthen women’s rights

and gender equality at a global level. Secondly, it is

necessary to promote women’s representation in

PES Women Bureau


Zita Gurmai


Olga Zrihen

Anna Karamanou

Inger Segelström

Britta Thomsen

Marianne Mikko

Laurence Rossignol

Karin Junker

Edite Estrela

Rovana Plumb

Marja Bijl

Sonja Lokar

Iratxe Garia Perez

Denitza Slateva



Women’s role in decision making process

politics, women’s participation in elections as candidates and voters. Finally we need to fight

against the conservative backlash.

The FEPS and PES Women have been committed to tackle these problems. As you may know,

PES Women brings progressive women in Europe together. We have strengthened our role

within the PES and promoted several campaigns on women’s rights and gender equality in

Europe and in the world.

The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) is a progressive political think tank at

European level. In only three years it managed to become a point of reference in several fields

amongst progressive politicians, academics, civil society representatives and – last, but not

least – European citizens interested in politics.

In the above-mentioned global economic, social and I dare to say moral crisis the European

Union is also hit by serious recession. The economic downturn causes decreasing economic

growth and increasing unemployment.

In the light of the austerity measures, several workplaces were abolished, especially in the

public sector. These labour market reductions primarily concerned the women workforce.

Therefore women’s living standards and income situation are getting progressively worse.

The conservative governments - that are in majority today in Europe - do not take this fact into

consideration during the uncircumspect application of austerity measures. So we see that

women’s interests and fundamental rights are threatened by right wing political governance.

This process can only be stopped by adequate progressive recommendations on the one hand,

and by women’s participation in decision-making that affects women on the other hand.

It is clear that we need to promote women’s participation in decision-making. This should

include European, national and regional elections - women should be encouraged to vote and

stand as candidates! This way, we can make sure that gender equality is adequately

mainstreamed and taken into account among the various current political challenges.

This is something that European citizens want, too. Not only the majority of women, but also the

majority of men agreed that women could bring a different perspective to politics, according to a

survey conducted by Eurobarometer in 2009.

Despite of all this, we have seen a conservative backlash throughout Europe. In 2009, we saw

a shift to the right and the extreme right in terms of political representation in the European


Importance of women's political empowerment

In the field of Gender Equality, European elections showed only a small increase in women’s

representation to 35% compared to just over 30% in the last mandate; for the S&D Group we

reached 40%.

Even though women make up more than half of the population and electorate of the EU, the

average representation of women in European parliaments is only 24%, while in national

governments as low as 23%.

A democracy which does not make enough room for 52 per cent of the population at the

decision-making table is no real democracy at all! This is true for the Member States but also

for the EU!

We have worked together with the European Women’s Lobby to run a campaign named 50/50

Campaign for Democracy. We proposed a system of nomination of Commissioners whereby

each Member State would propose a woman and a man as nominee Commissioners. The

President would then have the possibility to choose among them with a view to achieve an

equal representation of women and men in the new Commission.

Another method that is used in many places to increase women's participation in decisionmaking

is using quotas. For example, a women quota of 40% is applied in the PES.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it gives an idea of why and what challenges we have in

terms of gender equality in Europe, in the fields of political leadership.

As I said, the under-representation of women constitutes a serious democratic deficit, which

undermines the legitimacy of the contemporary democratic ideal and the establishment of an

inclusive and participatory democracy.

Besides the political decision-making bodies women are under-represented in the economic

decision-making bodies as well. Although women are increasingly highly educated, skilled and

willing to commit themselves to their careers, they remain poorly represented in high-level

management. The number of women presidents of Europe’s largest companies has fallen from

4% to 3% since 2004. This is not only about ethics and equality, it is also essential for economic


But! Despite the grim outlook, we need to stay positive because this is also precisely why we

are needed now more than ever! Together we can work towards a brighter future for women in

Europe, if we take into consideration the specific situation faced by women. This is our role; this

is the role of feminist social democrats, to tackle the blind austerity policies of the




Women’s role in decision making process

We need campaigns that call women into politics, as voters or as candidates. For example, the

topics of childcare, pension and pay gap, sexual and reproductive rights, violence against

women and children, maternity leave, etc. address women, and may inspire them to take part in

political activities.

If we can advance in this direction, together we can build a renewed economic model in which

every woman and man can feel protected and safe, part of a progressive and gender equal


More information:

Edit Herczog

Member of the European Parliament,

Treasurer of the S&D Group

Edit Herczog

Importance of women's political empowerment

Political empowerment of women

through digitalisation

Closing the gender GAP is a continuous challenge for politicians who believe in solidarity, equal

opportunities and social mobility.

While several success stories are reported of women leaders, the economic crisis, the

demographic challenges, the environmental changes and the latest political trends, the rise of

the right and extreme right movements are pushing us back.

Although in the last 30 years, a new threat has been shadowing the gender issue: the

application and the access to ICT technologies. This has got a little attention so far from

researchers, but we all feel that the accumulated effect of the lack of women in professions like

entrepreneurs, professional ICT experts or political decision-makers is causing a fast growing


There is a unique negative consequence of this, namely

the growing age GAP. The younger generation is

"internet native", while the older generation is only

"internet immigrant" or even "internet illiterate". The

different levels of using ICT based technology plays a

major role in the increased misunderstanding between youth and a political class, including


The long term consequences are easier to imagine if you examine how much the ICT means

contributed to the Arab Spring: The use of simple mobile phones accelerated political

movements more vertically than before. Or if you realise that on the other side of the world the

full Occupy Movement in Wall Street was also ICT organised.

So the question is the following: Are we OK with it if the ICT technology originating from a

simple garage will remain an exclusively male, especially young male opportunity?

The answer is clear. NO! It's time to wake up and act!

1. The EU new digital agenda will go for 100% universal coverage and broadband

access for all households, therefore, we have to encourage half of the society -



Political empowerment of women through digitalisation

women - to maximise their advantages and opportunities from this technological


2. Have to promote the ICT sector, a double digit growing sector as a career for women,

because most jobs are created here.

3. Have to push for more women entrepreneurs and women politicians with high ICT

skills to stay in the race of the 21st Century.

4. Have to concentrate on elderly people - where women are in a higher percentage -

and offer them ICT based solutions to make their lives easier and happier (with the

help of a photo blog to have all the family photos, or to have access to e-health

solutions, for example).

If you think it is impossible, it is just one more reason to start today as the GAP is growing every

minute. Are you ready?


Source: European Commission Digital Agenda 2012

More information:

Mija Javornik

CEE Network for Gender Issues,

SD Slovenia

Mija Javornik

Importance of women's political empowerment

CEE Network workshop in the

framework of the PES

Progressive Convention

One could observe 2 strong characteristics of youth in Slovenia, common to women and men:

the expectations of youth regarding their future jobs, which are in contract from the

opportunities offered by the labour market. On the other hand, the labour market is not inclined

to young people – it conditions three sets of characteristics: -knowledge, experience, sociocultural

capital or personality traits.

Regarding the overall situation of youth in Slovenian society today:

Among all European countries Slovenia is a leading country with the temporary employment

among young people (Eurostat 2009) (65.5 percent)

The unemployment rate in Slovenia is the highest among young people (aged 15 to 24 years) -

13.9% (11.6% for men and 17.0% for women).

The activity rate of young people by 2008 in Slovenia decreased (compared to 1996), mainly

due to an increase in the continuation of education (in 2006 approx. 20% less active than young

women in 1996).

On the employment rate of young people in Slovenia in recent years two factors were crucial -

an extension of education and relatively rigid labor market.

The survey Eurostudent 2005 has shown that student work (the so-called "student contracts") in

Slovenia carried 66.0 percent of all students, the difference between the sexes is minimal, since

the proportion varies by only 1 percentage point in favour of the male part of the student

population – students´ work from the employer point of view is an essential form of hiring

cheaper workforce, they do not need to pay social security contributions or to pay

compensations for absence from work, transportation costs to and from work, the cost of meal

allowances and expenses for annual leave, the employer may also dismiss a student at any

time because it has no obligation to pay severance or termination.



CEE Network workshop in the framework of the PES Progressive Convention

Moreover, the differences between men and women in the Slovenian society have not changed,

but the emergence of new forms of discriminatory conduct is more than obvious:

• Jobs carried out by women are concentrated in the lower part of the spectrum of the

labour market.

• Advancement opportunities are limited and do not meet the skills and education of


• Women are mainly employed in the service sector

• Women are still a minority in carrying the responsibility and managerial positions in

the economic and non-economic sectors, and therefore access to the social power

and influence is limited to women.


Some of the most important measures that the Slovenian government has undertaken from

2008 till today:

With the support of active employment policy in the period from 2007-2013 the government has

shaped a holistic approach for decreasing unemployment rates and to encourage employment



We can all agree on our ultimate aim of a better society. But I would like to present to you some

concrete measures to be taken in order to achieve that better society:

I. Reforming the system of social benefits is necessary, in order to focus on new social

groups that are most in need

II. The demographic crisis cannot be solved by “just” reforming the pension system, but

with the coordination of policies and with the consent of social partners; partnership

between women and men on aboard at the same time

III. Enhance /integrate a gender perspective in all spheres of society, especially in the

sphere of employment policies, not only those in which the social dimension is

particularly vulnerable.

IV. It is crucial to enable new party members to understand and internalise social

democratic values and main theoretical concepts. In the workshops of the CEE

Network, organized in April and September 2011, it became clear that all political

parties need systematic theoretical empowerment of young members, which is a

basic method of collective mentoring.

V. Personal mentorship as a systematic tool between established female politician and

young female activist is impossible due to “well known rivalry” between women.

VI. To develop personal mentorship as a new tool for badly needed rejuvenating of

women human rights activists in our social democratic parties.

Importance of women's political empowerment

VII. Parties need strengthening of internal party democracy, especially with regard to

human resources management, development and implementation of values and merit

based criteria for recruitment of new party members and for their promotion.

VIII. Furthermore, exchange of best practices of cooperation between women forums and

youth forums in the region, public seminars for party and non party women members,

renewal of the regional network of young women gender sensitive party activists

(former regional young feminist’s network dissipated).

Let me conclude by using a quote from Robert Luis Stephenson (1882), who once said “politics

is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is deemed necessary”, but I see that

even though there are no obligatory trainings for political activists there is an increasing need to

transfer inside knowledge about working for gender equality in politics to new comers, young

women who will take over the torch.

Source: Eurostat Newsrelease Euroindicators 5/2012 6 January 2012

More information:



Sonja Lokar

Executive Director,

CEE Network for Gender Issues

Sonja Lokar

Importance of women's political empowerment

Importance of women's political

empowerment in the light of new

economic and social challenges

Getting there in times of dispair

In times of transition, when our sister parties were weak, infected by neoliberalism and totally

gender blind, we have experienced how the neoliberal pattern of transition was detrimental to

women: all over CEE and SEE women were transformed into the biggest group of the losers of


I have participated in several workshops of this Progressive Convention and for me the situation

is clear: conservative parties which are in power in the EU at practically all levels – in national

states, in European Commission, European Council, European Parliament, practice neoliberal

»three A« solutions to the deepening financial and economic crises and women and youth are

already the ones to pay the highest price. Even worse, our sister parties when they are in power

often do not find viable alternatives – like in Hungary, in Slovenia, or cannot practice anything

much different as the pressure of neoliberal political majority in EU and globally is too strong

(Greece, Spain, Portugal). In such times it is of crucial importance to make women and youth

much stronger within our sister parties and help them this way to discover, advocate for and

implement innovative social democratic solutions to financial crises and economic recession.

What have changed in the process of EU accession and in the first few years of our countries'

membership in the EU?

Our parties for sure became much stonger, many of them have been even leeding their national

governments for one or even several electoral periods. The noeliberal infection is not cured at

all, but is withering down very slowly. With regard to gender equality issues our parties are the

best of all in every one of our countries, but they are still really lousy! In Slovenia for example,

Women's Lobby of Slovenia recenty published an analysis how 5 parliamentry parties have

placed their women candidates into eligibile constituencies. It turned out that the worst of them

gave only 2.6% of eligible constituences to their women candidates, and the best of them – and

this is, thanks to a small number of really well organized and determined active women in my

party, my SD party, only 20%. At the same time Slovenia has a legal quota for candidates' lists

at 35%! Most of our sister parties have established women party organizations, set quotas for



Importance of women's political empowerment in the light of new economic

and social challenges

the party organs in their statutes and quotas for their electoral lists. The matter of fact is that

these quota regulations are not implemented everywhere to the full. Most of our parties

supported the enactment of the first weak legal electoral qoutas, but we had to fight first and

foremost with the leaderships of our sister parties to get stronger quota regulations with clear

pacing rules in Macedonia and in Serbia. Not in one of our sister parties did women get

positions of power which would heve lifted them to the role of equal partners in establishing

party strategy for social and economic development. Gender equality policies are still not one of

the clear priorties of their overal policy offer to the voters, these parties still do not directly target

women voters. Getting women within the parties to the point that our voices, our proposal of the

solutions are heard, accepted and implemented is still a constant battle with »the old boys

networks« within our own parties.

So the idea of this workshop was, to open a serious discussion on innovative strategies that we

SD women need to use in order:

� First, to make our parties really gender equality sensitive,

� Second, to persuade voters to cast ther vote having in mind what their party is doing

or not doing to serve their most vital interests.

Conclusions on innovative methods to make women stronger within our parties, to make

our party really gender equality sensitive and to persuade voters for re-newed social


The discussion in the workshop based on exchanges of experiences of the panellists as well as

other participants have led to the following proposals for innovative activities of women within

our sister parties:

Innovation #1

If we want to become persuasive as supporters of the movements like »indignados«, and to

answer truth worthily to the outcry of angry people for so-called direct democracy, we need to

build participative democracy and openness to trade unions and civil society movements first

within our own parties.

Innovation #2

CEE Network for Gender Issues workshop led in 2011 in Skopje, on Mentoring, showed that

our parties are getting short on young social democratic activists, especially women. Young

women participants at the workshop complained that their party male colleagues use against

them the method of bad jokes and ridiculing their problems.

Importance of women's political empowerment

We need to insist on internal party democracy, on systematic development of human resources,

on merit based promotion of cadres, on development of personal and collective mentorship for

young people, especially young women. The feminist tradition of our parties has to be passed

to the younger generation in much more systematic way that this was the case until now.

Innovation #3

The experience of Women's Forum of Croatia shows that women party organizations are able

to make sure that the party includes gender aspects in every priority of its electoral program

and they are able to prepare and persuade the party to offer at least one concrete gender

equality policy as a party electoral promise to the voters.

Innovation #4

Experiences from SDP of BiH shows that when it is too difficult to make gender equality a

priority of party politics directly, women activists can do it indirectly as well, by getting on board

trade union activists who need to make much closer partnership with SD if they both intend to

develop their country in open social dialogue, without using drastic neoliberal solutions. Gender

equality became a natural part of the party electoral program and of the agreement of SD

government of BiH Federation with TU on crucial social policy issues. As women were in the

leed of this process of partnership building, this agreement is really gender equality sensitive.

Innovation #5

ECOSY leadership has discovered that the procedure of competing for the leading individual

positions within their organization is gender biased. In ECOSY they practice and should

continue to practice statute based firm positive measures to achieve gender balance in their

organizational organs, but the procedure of electing individual leaders of the organization is

much more difficult for the young women with less experience in public speaking than for young

men. They are still looking for the good solution of this problem.

Innovation #6

Several participants, veterans, as well as young ones, underlined:

It is of crucial importance not to accept the concepts and wording of our opponents on the

issues of gender equality. Instead of talking about fairness, equal opportunities and quotas, we

should talk about equality between women and men, equality of results and parity and start to

openly use and fight for the positive connotation of the notion: feminism. If we accept the

wording of the conservatives and liberals, we are stepping out of our own value system and

give prevalence to their value systems.



Importance of women's political empowerment in the light of new economic

and social challenges

Innovation #7

Several participants underlined that the fight for positive measures, especially enacted positive

measures (quotas, parity) is far from being over, neither within the leadership of our parties,

neither within women membership of our parties, and even less within the general public. When

conservatives and liberals are getting rid of gender equality bodies within the governments and

parliaments under the pretext of saving budgetary funds, we should insist on their

strengthening, like the Danish social democrats who have established a gender equality body in

their new parliament for the first time.

Innovation #8

When social democratic and similar parties do not want or are not strong enough to enact alone

positive measures for equal representation of women in all elected and nominated decision

making bodies, social democratic women need to initiate or join broad civil society women

coalitions in order to make enough pressure on all parties in parliament to force them to enact

quota regulations like this was the case in 8 South European countries (BiH, Kosovo,

Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro) and recently in Poland (Congress

of Polish Women).

Innovation #9

Everywhere in Europe stereotypes on women in politics are still very strong. It is of crucial

importance to create women role models, especially in executive branches of power by

lobbying our parties to give women ministers unusual portfolios such as interior, defence,

finance, foreign affairs, economic development.

More information:

Sanja Major

Adviser, City Office for Social Protection

and Persons with disabilities, The City of Zagreb

Sanja Major

Importance of women's political empowerment

Being a young woman in Croatia

today – obstacles and challenges

My name is Sanja, I'm a 31 year old woman who acquired over the years a college degree,

certain skills and has a strong will to fulfill my potential in order to be a valuable member of the

community. Regardless to all mentioned competencies I still have two major obstacles to cross

in climbing the social ladder – being a young person and being a woman.

In Croatia, women predominate in the rate of unemployment, they are paid approximately 18%

less and have a higher risk of long-term unemployment than men within the same age range.

We are the second country on the youth unemployment scale in Europe because of the

perception that young people are a social burden rather then a social potential of the

community. Poor financial situation prolongs staying with nuclear family and postponing

creating a family of their own.

According to research, young people that have obtained

college degrees have more possibilities to find a better

paid job and SDP's political framework for the next 4

years rests on the idea of a policy that will enable higher

quality of education, easier access to the labour market

and the beginning of independent life as a young

person. This policy is known as a – education, career,

living space - triangle.

The Kukuriku coalition will encourage active

employment measures, which include direct payments

and subsidies for every new employment, a major

intervention measures will provide a temporary

exemption from paying the contribution for each new

employee. Also, a special attention will be given in

building a strategy of employing women. One of the

most important policy for the Kukuriku coalition is to

achieve full equality in the prevalence of gender

conditioned diffrences from an early age through the

education system or the eradication of stereotypes, to

open space for equal educational outcomes of

The Kukuriku coalition

(Croatian: Kukuriku koalicija) is

a political alliance in Croatia

formed in 2010. It consists of

four centre-left parties in the

Croatian Parliament: Social

Democratic Party of Croatia,

Croatian People's Party –

Liberal Democrats, Istrian

Democratic Assembly, and

Croatian Party of Pensioners.

Their somewhat facetious name

Kukuriku, meaning 'cock-adoodle-doo',

was taken from a

restaurant of the same name in

Kastav, where they first

convened in July 2009 became

well known, and eventually

became the coalition's official




Being a young woman in Croatia today – obstacles and challenges

girls/women and boys/young men, and therefore fundamental changes in economic, social and

family policy in the medium and long term.

One of the problems within the political parties is the fact that very often young women are in

youth organizations, and women over 30 are in women's organizations and that's why the first

have the lack of gender perspective while the others miss the age perspective. One of the

major problem is that young women are primarily identified as young persons, and then as a

woman. In the SDP an attitude is still engrained that women's issues are dealt primarily by older

women. With the improved position of women within their own party we can work better in

promoting the idea of complete equality in the wider social context.

The system of mentoring young women in the SDP doesn't exist and is still based on personal

commitment, will and persistence of certain young women to become politically involved to

come in contact with older and more experienced female politicians from whom they can learn.

The system of mentoring is essential for the formation of a new political force and should be run

not only by women's organizations in our party, but also by youth organizations where the party

can recruit perspective young people.


• Conducting surveys on the desire for mentoring young people by older members of

the SDP

• Conducting surveys and testing of the expressed interest in a particular area, the level

of knowledge and preferences of young women who entered into the system of


• Create a program for a period of one / two years through which a young woman and

her mentor can work on specific projects / policies

• This mentoring system may be extended by the expressed desires, needs or start a

new form of cooperation with another politician, and work on other issues

My final thought is that nothing is stronger than a sinergy between young woman's enthusiasm

guided by knowledge and experience of a mature woman.

More information:

Thomas Maes

Secretary General,

ECOSY – Young European Socialists

Thomas Maes

Importance of women's political empowerment

Overcoming gender underrepresentation

or the microphone


Whoever participates in political processes, whether at the grassroots level within an

organisation or in public elections, can see it happen time and again. An election is held for a

position of some level of prestige, and the day of the hustings has arrived: the two candidates,

Ms A and Mr B, prepare to impress the audience, which is at the same time the electorate, with

their speeches on what their plans for the mandate about to begin are.

The audience is starting to fill up the room. Mr B takes up a strategic position close to the

entrance and chats away happily, to those with many friends and perhaps also to those with

fewer friends. “Well, I don’t really expect to be elected, you know, but we’ll see.” Ms A is sitting

near the front of the room, nervously shifting papers about and internally rehearsing her

speech. A friend of hers sits down next to her. “How’s it going?” “I think I stand a chance, just

need to pull off this speech thing. Still need to rehearse a bit.” The start time of the meeting

comes and goes. No sign of the hustings’s chair, well-respected veteran Mr C, who held the

position for many years in the 1990s. Meanwhile, a group of vaguely rowdy yet friendly young

people known as the “Mr B appreciation society” enters the room and fills up one of the back

corners. They rehearse the playfully joking chant they came up with in the pub last night, “Can’t

you see, vote for B!” It doesn’t do much good for Ms A’s nerves, whose handful of tenacious

friends have meanwhile frantically started waving their hand-made “Change the world, vote A”


Minutes pass, without a sign of Mr C. The room’s technician noisily swaggers up to the front

and tests the microphone on the prominently installed speakers’ desk: “Test, 1, 2, 3, Test.” The

microphone whistles and pops annoyingly, the technician proclaims that the microphone is “a

bit wonky” but it’ll have to do. Mr B claps the technician on the shoulder, don’t worry.

Finally, half an hour after the start time of the meeting, Mr C arrives. He delivers a long, boring

speech (fifteen minutes, but it seems like an hour to Ms A) about the cardinal importance of the

position and the glorious achievements of the organisation and previous incumbents, especially

himself, implicitly. He makes a lengthy fuss of praising both candidates for their outstanding

abilities, “what a pity we can only elect one of these excellent candidates”. But whoever loses



Overcoming gender under-representation or the microphone effect

shouldn’t despair, life is ahead of us and there will for sure be future glories in store. He calls

Ms A to the front.

Ms A walks up to the speakers’ desk, clutching her papers. She takes a deep breath and starts

delivering her prepared speech. “Louder!” come the shouts from the back of the room. “Use the

microphone!” Ms A is knocked out of her stride; she apologises and nervously starts twiddling

with the buttons on the microphone. It doesn’t work. “It was on!” comes the booming voice of

the technician, wagging his head. Ms A makes another attempt at speaking into the

microphone: a bone-chilling whistle emanates from the speakers, the audience shudders. Ms A,

gathering her courage, quickly reads through her speech, outlining her well-researched and

well-budgeted activity plan for the mandate, and the clearly defined goals she wants to reach by

the end of it. Her speech is greeted with a polite applause from the audience and franatic

placard-waving from her friends: on coming down from the stage she is greeted with a broad

flourish by Mr B, congratulating her on her excellent speech and wishing her good luck. He

makes a show of kissing her on both cheeks: she wishes he wouldn’t do that.

Mr B takes the stage. Loud chants: “Can’t you see, vote for B!” A broad arm-gesture calms the

crowd; Mr B adjusts the microphone to his height. He opens by complimenting Ms A (perhaps a

quick comment on her radiant looks) and ensuring the audience that he will be happy for the

world whoever wins, it’s an honest contest. The microphone breaks down altogether; Mr B

undauntedly pushes it aside, continuing at the top of his voice. In a speech of booming

rhetorical impressiveness, he talks about his childhood and how his classmates in primary

school convinced him to enter politics: he promises to end the crisis, destroy capitalism and

achieve world peace. Applause, more loud chants.

Mr B is elected by a landslide.

Though the story contains a few slight exaggerations, I have seen most of its elements occur

dozens of times when watching or visiting election congresses of socialist and social

democratic youth organisations. A few times the story unfolded more or less in its entirety:

either way, it is clear that desperately few women succeed in being elected when in direct, oneto-one

competition against men. If they run at all, that is: even in cases where hard gender

quota is in place, the number of male candidates tends to be a multiple of the number of female

candidates for any position. The cause can easily be identified as the gendered nature of

traditional political and electoral processes.

Most of these processes involve formal speeches, large and unmoderated audiences,

interaction with (almost invariably male) illustrious predecessors, small talk with (near)

strangers, improvisation and sound systems, all of which belong to the domain constructed as

male in our society. It is of course possible for individual women to make these processes their

own and reach office anyway, but this cannot achieve gender equality in the political field since

the women in question are anyway accorded “male” attributes by society, so they by definition

Importance of women's political empowerment

remain as individual cases. In order to overcome the gendered outcome of political processes,

the severe under-representation of women in office at any level, it is therefore necessary to

tackle the issue at several levels.

Various types of affirmative action, such as the imposition of hard gender quotas for the election

of multiple offices (either at candidacy or at election level) and the avoidance of electing officials

individually, at least ensure a more level outcome, though they mostly mask the gendered

nature of processes rather than actually tackling it. This “masking effect” becomes especially

problematic if “temporary” affirmative action is phased out when it appears to have achieved its

objective: evidence suggests the original gender inequalities tend to reappear immediately.

Thus, the organisers of political processes should also directly attempt to avoid the immediate

gendered trappings of the traditional process. Formal speeches can be replaced with one-toone

interviews in front of an audience; “speed-dating” methods can be used in order to avoid

large crowds and uncontrolled small talk, sound systems can be avoided altogether by meeting

in smaller rooms.

It can be done.

More informaion:


Kaisa Penny


Young European Socialists

Kaysa Penny

Importance of women's political empowerment

We need to be the change

we call for in our societies

"We need more women in politics" is a line often heard from women's organisations, but also

from political parties and decision-makers. Yet any trends of increasing numbers of women in

parliaments or in governments are stagnant or slow at best. There are obviously many reasons

for this, but I'd like to analyse one aspect in particular.

In order to get involved in politics, one needs to get involved in parties at one level or another.

And it is the parties themselves who either help or hinder female participation. It is not alone

about policies, statements or legislation, but practical issues that determine whether women

can get involved or not.

For a young mother - a very attractive person from party political point of view - getting involved

is often most problematic. Not only are we juggling with work, childcare and other

responsibilities, but we should find time to sit in meetings, go campaigning and participate in

different events as well. Now, if you are interested in politics, you are also interested in taking

part in all of this, that is not the problem for most women. The question is far simpler. When and

where do these meetings take place, and are the events organised so that a new parent can

possibly participate? Most of the time the meetings take place in the weekday evenings

relatively late, in cramped offices, taking hours in end. Taking young children with you around

bedtime is difficult at best of times, not everyone has a partner who can or is willing to care for

the children, and finding child-care is not an option for everyone.

On bigger events we rarely see children. Either, mothers and fathers - in order to participate -

have to find somewhere to leave their children, or not participate. And if someone brings their

children with them, the reception is often far from welcoming.

But it wouldn't need to be this way. It is very easy for a political movement to be supportive and

welcoming for young mothers, and fathers, who wish to be involved, and have no access to

ever-available, super-flexible care options. I wish to share a couple of great experiences from

the youth movement, as we have found some ways to ease, and encourage participation of the

young parents and families.

In the Congress of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth SSU last summer I was happy to see

a high number of children from new-born babies to school age kids. The Congress hall was



We need to be the change we call for in our societies

packed with young social democrats eager to get their opinions heard, and amongst them, or

mostly on the passages around and in front of the seats you had a number of children running

and collecting nothing but smiles and welcomes from those around. Just outside the Congress

hall SSU had built a nice and calm area of bean-bags and sofas, where kids were sitting,

drawing, reading and playing games. The Congress was orchestrated by a secretary-general,

who's two children were among the others, occasionally wanting to join their dad in the

proceedings on stage.

Our Austrian comrades organised a successful IUSY Festival last summer in Attersee for 2500

young socialists from across the world. They also made sure that those who came with their

children felt welcome. There was not only the calm place to sleep (a festival can be a rather

noisy place to be) organised with zero fuss, but also special invites to Rubber Duck races and a

bouncy castle just for the kids. Small, but ever so significant gestures that make the experience

positive for the families.

The European Youth Forum has a standing policy of organising child-care during their longer

events on demand for participating parents. All you need to do is to tell the organisers at

registration that you'd need it, and it will be taken care of. For us in ECOSY, it is obvious that

any parent could bring their children with them to our meetings or events. I have myself had my

daughters in our Congresses and Bureau meetings, and have always been facilitated kindly

and supportively by the Secretariat.

Next summer we - ECOSY - are organising a summer camp in Croatia. We have committed

ourselves from the beginning into making the camp accessible and enjoyable for all our

members, including and especially for those with young children. We are looking into organising

a crèche, making it possible for the parents to participate in the program. We have asked to

borrow the bouncy castle from the Austrians this year as well, and we wish to organise program

that is family friendly. This in addition to the obvious accommodation and hygiene issues that

we're making sure are fit for children as well.

These all are examples of small, inexpensive practises that are empowering young mothers by

simply being there. You don't even need to take use of them, but knowing that the organisation,

or a party, you are considering getting active in, welcomes you, supports and helps you out, can

be the deciding factor.

The big picture of gender equality is built up from smaller ones. The greatest policy only works if

the attitudes of the society support it. And the change must start from within. We need to be the

change we are calling for; we are the ones who can make it a real possibility for young women,

and especially young mothers to participate.

More information:

Rovana Plumb

Member of the European Parliament,

Vice-President of the S&D Group,

Member of the PES Women Executive Board

Rovana Plumb

Importance of women's political empowerment

Importance of women's political

empowerment in light of the new

economic and social challenges

Today's economic challenges such as fierce unemployment, ageing societies, and lower

productivity levels, to name a few, have had a strong impact on women's participation in the

labour market as well as their empowerment in social, economic and political fields of activity.

Despite an increase in female employment following the crisis, this has rather been the case

with part-time or irregular work which is usually low-paid and uncertain. This issue draws our

attention that Europe needs to bring more female workers into full-time employment to

contribute to their empowerment and emancipation, by offering them the chance to have a

thriving career after the completion of their education, and also to be on equal terms with men

as far as quality of life, educational attainment, economic opportunities and political

representation are concerned.

Women are still disadvantaged in the highest-level professions, particularly in the political and

financial areas because of the embedded perception that men are more competent in pursuing

top-level careers. From this point of view, the European democracy still looks imperfect: by

applying the criteria of competence to the access to an important position, the balance weighs

in favour of male candidates.

The engagement of women in the mechanisms that regulate civil life has low levels in many EU

countries, including in Romania. Although Romania's accession to the EU has brought about an

improvement in the status of women and an increase in their visibility in the labour market,

Romanian women are not very well informed about their right to equal opportunities and equal

treatment. I sincerely hope that the patriarchal mentalities will change in the long-term, leaving

room for mutual understanding and respect for both sexes. At the same time, we need to

relentlessly continue to work together towards promoting an adequate status of women both in

Romania and in the EU, so that they can gain a rightful place in society, through financial

independence, self-confidence and a sense of self-worth.

When it comes to a leadership position, one rarely ever sees a genuinely fair and open

competition between the two sexes, aimed at emphasizing personal achievements and skills.

Women’s voices in policy-making are insufficiently taken into account as compared to men,

which means that they do not have meaningful input into the social and political developments



Importance of women's political empowerment in light of

the new economic and social challenges

in their societies and as a result, do not gain the same political influence that men do. However,

I firmly believe that the political and social scenes both in Romania and the EU cannot be

devoid of female participation and leadership.

Similarly, although the number of female university graduates is higher than men, the former

are under-represented in the management boards of companies and public administrations,

owing to a stereotyping of 'management' as a typically 'male' profession. This is because the

business and political realms are often portrayed as 'aggressive', being broadly accessible to

men, and therefore less open to women who are classified as weak, which explains why certain

professions are 'feminised' (for instance, nursing, teaching, office work, care of the elderly and

the disabled). These are generally lower-paid and limited in their prospects for offering


Another issue that women are generally more confronted with than men is the work-life

balance. This is unfortunately regarded as a 'woman's problem' and not an issue that should be

of equal concern to both men and women, thus instilling the idea that women do not have

sufficient time to assume the responsibilities of a high-level position due to other commitments

that family life imposes. This is a sever under-estimation of the potential and skills of women

who are just as capable in taking leadership positions as men are.

I therefore believe that women's empowerment should start from the early stages of education,

through the diversification of the educational and training opportunities available to women and

girls, the promotion of self-esteem and leadership in girls, and also of life-long learning and

training. In this respect, the young and qualified female workers should have wider access to

top positions in companies and political organisations, in order to break down the viewpoint of

women as passive help recipients in favour of that which presents them well-deservedly as

dynamic promoters of social, political and economic progress.

A fair and gender-balanced representation in politics and in the management boards of

companies constitutes a progressive approach in tackling the social, demographic and

economic challenges that Europe is confronted with.

In light of these challenges, women's empowerment can bring about a multitude of benefits:

creating a more effective use of skills, better human resources management, better working

relationships, and on the whole, positive effects on the reputation and the productive potential

of their workplace, be it a company or a political institution. A woman leader also has additional

assets that can help towards more efficient and effective results in the long-term: diligence,

empathy, communication, listening skills, compassion.

Moreover, boosting female employability in positions of high responsibility can deliver the muchneed

economic growth and can be a powerful deterrent against the high unemployment levels

Importance of women's political empowerment

in the EU-27. Similarly, new technologies, research and development sectors and 'green jobs'

are new instruments to capitalise on, due to their high-growth potential, and as a result, more

highly-skilled women should be employed and retained in these fields at a higher level.

On the whole, the empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of their

political, social, political and economic status is both a highly important end in itself and

necessary for the achievement of social human development, equal political representation and

economic growth. Only by giving equal opportunities to women in all walks of human

endeavour, acknowledging their skills and thereby empowering them can we progress and

positively contribute to our societies on the basis of equal respect and equal treatment.

More information:


Professor Dr.h.c.Christa Randzio-Plath

Lawyer and Lecturer,

Former Member of the European Parliament,

Former vice-President SIW Women,

President Marie-Schlei-Association, Germany

Christa Randzio-Plath

Women in politics

Importance of women's political empowerment

Women empowerment is an invention of the last century. So the 20th century brought the

benefits of women`s political emancipation and legal rights in public and civil law. This progress

was due to the first women`s movements. The first collective declarations in favour of women’s

political rights with the French revolution had no positive reaction. Olympe de Gouges who

published a Declaration of the Rights of Women (1791) lost her life. British Suffragettes and

continental women movements stressed the right to vote as an expression of equality in

citizenship. The first German women`s movement before the 1st World War even believed in

the fact that once the political rights were given to women equality between men and women

would be easily achieved. But despite a high participation rate of women in the votes for

parliaments the political representation of women has been weak even after the 2nd World War

and none where in Europe exceeded the 10%- rate.

In the Western democracies the female presence in politics remained low. Only the students`

revolution, the sexual revolution, the peace movement and the very low political participation

and interest of women in political parties made especially European political parties reflect on

increasing the political participation of women in order to gain electorate and thus political

power. The objective of former decades: every second seat in parliament and government

should go to a woman. Europe is far from fulfilling this. Nevertheless the gender equality in

politics was much more successful than the gender equality in the economy. The quota

regulations of political parties changed the political landscape in Europe but economic power

remained with men.

The women`s organizations in contrast to the feminist autonomous movements and the

women`s organizations within the political parties were the frontrunners for a higher political

representation of women and more political power for women. Their ambition: to increase

political participation, democratic legitimacy by ending discrimination against women and to

change not only numbers of seats in the hand of women but also the quality of political

decision-making. Change has been a key word in the debate about more women having

access to politicaldecision-making. Equality of women in politics became not only a question of

non-discrimination but also of changing decision- making to the better. Women becoming more

and more qualified in education, studies and professional life should become deputies and

ministers, mayors and political stake holders in general.

Nevertheless it has to be underlined that the 20th century brought women political emancipation

and improved legal rights in a lot of strands of concern like family and heritage law, social rights

and more autonomy. The 21st century now has to deliver and to make women part of all



Women in Politics

political solutions. Women in Arab countries demand freedom and democracy but also

participation to chart their own futures and the future of their countries. A key challenge is to

translate women’s leadership in the streets into sustained leadership in the political arena. The

21st century has to finally be that time when we see equality between men and women. Women

make up less than 10 percent of world leaders. Globally less than one in five members of

parliament are woman. The 30 percent critical mass mark for women’s representation in

parliament has been reached or exceeded in only 28 countries. In the 21st century gender

equality finally has to become a lived reality.

Political strategies

There are different political strategies to make women getting access to decision-making in

policies. Former Chancellor and Peace Nobel Prize Winner Willy Brandt proposed the quota

model of 40% for the German Social- Democratic Party already in the 70ies but the women

refused because of their self-esteem. Only 20 years ago in Germany the quota system has

been introduced by the SPD, the Greens got it already in the 80ies immediately after their

foundation. Actually all figures prove that those UN countries with quota systems perform better

than other countries in view to political equality between women and men. Those countries use

all strategies for improving the gender equality at the same time- quotas and measures for

women empowerment, reporting and recommending, gender mainstreaming and gender

budgeting as well traditional patterns like training and qualification measures, fundraising

proposals and other procedures to make women become successful in access to political

power. Sometimes developing countries are stronger than European countries to use given

instruments in order to promote women in politics like Ruanda women and their nearly 50%

representation in their national parliament. It has to be remembered that quota regulations in

the former Communist countries(25%)helped to raise the percentage of women in the houses to

over 20% while actually only 19.4% of deputies in both houses worldwide are women.

Experience demonstrates that neither in politics nor in the private sector men retire and give up

their privileges because of a woman wanting to be candidate.

The quota system as a party or election strategy is just an instrument but the most powerful

instrument. Punishment is possible because of media and public opinion. Nowadays parties

compete in most European countries with the challenge of women `representation.

Nevertheless, women empowerment remains necessary. Political parties with clear ambitions

for women`s promotion, mentoring programs and role models like the Brazilian president Dilma

Roussef, the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland or the actual prime

ministers in Europe and other world regions make clear that they want a structural change in

societies by offering women the political participation they want.

But there has also to be scrutiny about the behaviour of the political elite and membership of a

political party. There should be no political event any more being dominated by male presence,

male statements and male behaviour. This is fundamental for a change of political culture and

Importance of women's political empowerment

political decision-making. Women being equal in political decision-making are about numbers

but also about qualitative changes in political shaping and making. The presence of women in

politics does not only change the participation rate and transparency but also offers

opportunities to change society and societal engagement.

The challenge remains for women in politics: If we want the human society we have to

overcome the male (patriarchal) society.

More information:


Brigita Schmögnerová

former Vice President,

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,

former Minister of Finance, Slovakia

Brigita Schmögnerová

Importance of women's political empowerment

Women’s voice to be heard


Women in the CEE have been disproportionally affected by the neoliberal transition and

reforms and recently by the financial and economic crisis. Market fundamentalism which was

embedded in the transition blueprint and in the follow-up neoliberal reforms including pension

reforms, tax reforms, social security reforms, labour reforms, etc. have proved to have more

negative consequences on women than men. Our society is in a significant crisis of solidarity.

Neoliberalism ignores inequalities generated by the market incl. gender inequalities; it ignores

growth of poverty, unemployment or exploitation. In most cases women are more often victims

of it than men.

The financial and economic crisis at the beginning seemed to be friendlier to women than to

men. Fewer women lost jobs than men as more women work in the public sector: in education,

health, caring, etc. i.e. sectors less affected by the crisis at its early stage. However measures

like fiscal stimulus, the bail-out of the banking sector implemented to tackle the crisis were far

from gender sensitive. Labour reforms as a part of the crisis response lowered wages, offered

more precarious jobs, lowered worker’s protection. They have had more important impact on

women than on men as women have always been more ready to take less paid and less

protected jobs.

Debt crisis and austerity measures implemented to reduce budget deficits lead to lower

expenditure in the health sector, caring, education sector, lower social allowances, etc. By

these measures women are affected twice: as public sector workers and as primarily

responsible for time-consuming child care, elderly care and sick care. It is very likely women will

have less and less energy and capacity to progress in their careers and to be involved in public


Life in Transition Survey, EBRD, 2011 shows that after 1989 women’s representation in

parliaments decreased and is lower than before 1989. While the overall percentages of

membership of men and women in political parties are small, fewer women than men are

members of political parties or have participated in political activities such as attending

demonstrations, participating in strikes or signing petitions. The survey adds that due to the fact

that women’s membership in trade unions and NGOs is low it is also an indication of women’s

low rate of participation in public life.



Women’s voice to be heard

The following paragraphs put forward some recommendations on how to improve low

participation of women in politics.

Active participation of women in politics in 4 steps

In order a voice of women to be heard women must talk. Therefore following two steps are


Step 1. Keep talking on women’s issues. Insist that all reforms, austerity measures, budget

preparation (at all levels), etc. should be subject to Gender Impact Analysis.

Formulate your requirements, objections, etc.

Step 2. Move on from talking on women’s issues to talking on more general issues. Be a part

of debates on all important financial, economic, social, etc. issues as appropriate.

Step 3. Progress from a talking role to a check and balance role holding governments at all

levels and politicians accountable.

Step 4. Move on from a check and balance role to a leading role.

Crisis of representative democracy: a new opportunity for women?

Low turn-outs in local, regional, national and European elections in most CEE countries in

recent years illustrate a decline of trust in elected politicians and governments. The birth of

massive social movements like OWS in the USA, social movements in Spain, Greece, Italy, etc.

but also growing number of industrial actions in CEE, 99% movements, etc. indicate people’s

dissatisfaction with representative democracies. Call for more participative democracy or direct

democracy at all levels incl. local level is a new opportunity for women’s voice to be heard. In

most of social movements a hierarchical structure is non-existent. Therefore women need not

be intimidated by power plays typical for well structured organisations or “men’s organisations”.

Their participation in social movements could be an excellent learning opportunity and an

occasion for increasing their chances for future leadership roles.

What women bring into the world of politics

While we all agree that women’s equal participation in the world of politics is their political right,

as well as women’s rights are human rights, etc. At the same time I believe that women have a

mission in life. Therefore I believe that if women fail to bring into the world of politics new

values, goals and ways how to achieve them, they will fail their mission.

In the period of the crisis of solidarity women should bring into the world of politics solidarity as

one of the key social-democratic values. No objection is to professionalism which must women

Importance of women's political empowerment

bring in. In most cases women have to prove to be more educated and professionally prepared

than men and they succeed to do it. However it is not enough: In addition to this women should

bring in ethics and courage: courage to object to unethical or non-professional decisions.

Women should always fight for human rights, for peace, against environmental degradation,


Women active in the world of politics

Party politics should recognise benefits of integrating women into the party’s structure. Parties

should not only agree on quotas but also ask themselves what they can do to assist women to

be actively involved in politics?

Women caring for their families (particularly young women) enter the world of politics more

easily at local levels as local deputies, mayors or as members of NGOs.

At government’s level women are most often appointed to traditional positions as ministers of

labour, health, social affairs&family and education. Whether we like it or not the more powerful

ministerial positions are the ministers of finance, or foreign affairs. A lady minister of finance

would (or should) better understand the role of finance and ensure an open dialogue between

“productive” and “non-productive” ministries and understand social and environmental

expenditures as a factor of socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth.

Finally a question: Is there a need for Ministry of Gender Equality? In the first phase when

gender issues are not recognised by society and party politics, the immediate answer is: YES.

In a later stage of development – if achieved – gender issues should be incorporated in policies

of each ministry, in all policy measures, programmes, etc. In this case of true “gender

mainstreaming” the answer would be: “NO”. However “a gender mainstreaming watchdog”

would remain to be highly recommended.

More information:


Judit Tánczos

Policy Advisor,

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

Judit Tánczos

Importance of women's political empowerment

Forever assistants?

Challenges of women’s political


“Jean Roatta, former UMP MP, who left the National Assembly last month in order to become

MEP, was very much impressed, upon his arrival, by the crowd in Strasbourg's Parliament,

much younger, much more feminine and with more colours than in Palais Bourbon. "Very

interesting, all those assistants..." he turned to Brice Hortefeux. "Those are not assistants, but

MEPs", Hortefeux warned him cheerfully.” 1

Women’s political involvement is yet another issue in the European Union, where equality exists

in law, but does not follow in fact. And even if numbers might slowly improve, the quote above

shows very well, that the stereotypes and associations on gender roles are even more difficult

to change. The current economic and financial crisis does not only mean a risk because budget

cuts will largely deteriorate the infrastructure effecting women’s life (eg. less positions in the

public sector, negative effect on child care facilities, cuts in the health sector). These measures

can also easily be interpreted as symbols of one’s view on society. When these changes have

the effect that women’s place in the public sphere gets more and more limited, it is tempting to

give up, and - in accordance with the traditional, conservative gender roles – opt for a less

ambitious public role or retreat to the private sphere.

To begin with, I would like to complement and

further think about some of the elements

discussed at the workshop organised by the

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

(FEPS) and the CEE Network on Gender Issues

on 26th November 2011. Then it will be

described what role FEPS plays and what

added value it represents in efficiently

supporting women’s empowerment.

1 L’agréable surprise d’un depute au Parlement Européen. Le Parisien, 21 January 2012




Forever assistants? Challenges of women’s political empowerment

Changing image on surface vs. changing gender roles

Activism is of great importance when it comes to the advancement of women’s political

empowerment and changing the perception of gender roles. Due to intense cooperation in the

past decades, there is a huge toolkit available for lobbying. However, the use of this toolkit far

too often bumps into walls of prejudice and stereotypes. Therefore, I would like to firstly evoke

some elements of the debate about gender roles, which have been there for a while, but

certainly their further discussion is necessary.

The reason is often evoked, that women should be more politically active (both in terms of civic

participation and as politicians), as they have a naturally different way of doing politics.

According to this belief, women are more empathetic, peaceful and careful. However, taking a

look at politicians like Marine Le Pen, Krisztina Morvai or Michelle Bachman, there is no need

for intense research to refute this argument. This argument based on supposed behavioural

differences can be quite harmful in the process of women’s political empowerment, as it

reinforces stereotypes of classical gender roles.

The reason behind women’s political empowerment is rather linked with the debate about

values in our society, and the way notions like freedom, emancipation and equality are

interpreted. Several male politicians use equality, meaning the legal availability of equal

opportunities, as an excuse for maintaining the current status quo. Their argument can be

summarised as follows. The possibilities are there, women could freely decide to enter politics.

But of course, if willingness and ambition is lacking, it would be against their free will to push

them in another direction. Therefore, in order to change the perception of gender roles in

society also on the level of bias and sub-consciousness, progressives should promote a new

interpretation of freedom, meaning emancipation as an equal member of a community. 2 This is

the first step if we would like to change institutional mechanisms, and effectively implement the

toolkit available. Interpreting women’s political empowerment in this way is important, as it sees

change in the way of doing politics based on supporting transformation in societal attitudes.

Having noted this, it should be seen that it gives an important argument against these

politicians cynically wondering about women's ambitions. It forms a solid part of the reasoning

why gender quotas are necessary, amongst other fields, in politics. It is an efficient and

supportable element of the toolbox with possible encouraging effect, at least in the beginning of

the procedure, when institutional mechanisms are still missing. But again, one should be aware

of the importance of the construction of arguments for quotas. Would the empowerment of a

critical mass of women to participate actively in political life in itself change the perception of

gender roles? If most of these women choose to continue representing the traditional values,

based on the traditional interpretation of gender roles, change would be hardly expected. It

2 Skrzypek, A. (2011) The core values for the Next Social Deal, [in:] Progressive values for the 21st

century, (eds.)E. Stetter, K. Duffek & A. Skrzypek, FEPS

Importance of women's political empowerment

could nuance the image of women in general, but it would not be able to change the deeply

rooted stereotypes on women. Instead, having more progressive women in politics committed

to this new interpretation of the value of freedom could indeed be a catalyst for change. It

should not be forgotten that representing this set of values needs lots of courage. Being an

equal member of society means more individual responsibility and the loss of comfort of the

conservative way of being taken care of. This brings progressives to the challenge of

interpreting the value of solidarity.

FEPS as an actor for changing attitudes

The unfavourable effect of the current financial and economic crisis on various aspects of

women’s life has been in the centre of interest of women’s groups’ (political) debate. FEPS has

also taken an active role in this debate through its various initiatives. FEPS has offered place

for discussing practical steps against the measurable effects of the crisis, such as stagnating or

decreasing number of childcare facilities, women's unemployment, or their growing poverty. The

series of annual spring conferences organised with the support of the Fondation Jean Jaures

form an important part in assessment of the situation. Based on this assessment, it has been

also acknowledged, that the issue of women's political empowerment is ever more crucial in

crisis times. The workshop organised with the support of the CEE Network on Gender Issues

approached the topic from an activist point of view. However, the issues brought up in the

previous part of the article prove that activism which encourages more women to participate in

political decision-making must not only be fast, but also coherent in response in order to be

efficient. This coherence in action supposes coherence in the theoretical background as well as

common understanding of the shared values. Within FEPS a separate reflection on the longterm

effects of the crisis on the perception of gender roles was launched. This topic formed an

integral part of the discussions at the conference “Clara Zetkin could do it. So can we!”, at the

European Parliament on 28 February – 1 March 2011, as well as at “Restrengthening global

sisterhood”, the third transatlantic meeting on gender equality in Washington D.C. on 20-21

October 2011. The current crisis is indeed a chance for introducing a new vision for society, and

a new interpretation of gender roles within it. By linking reflection on progressive values and

value-driven action, FEPS is in privileged position to motivate this transformation and contribute

to it.

I'm convinced that the work of FEPS combining progressive thinking on gender roles, feminism,

women's rights and women's activism is essential and instrumental for preventing automatic

associations, like the one I quote in the beginning. So that women in politics will be free of the

image of being forever assistants.

More information:


Patrizia Toia

Member of the European Parliament,

Vice Chair of the Group of the Progressive

Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

Patrizia Toia

Greater equality for all

Importance of women's political empowerment

In past years, women have worked hard to reach the equality of rights and opportunities, but

there is a lot of work to do yet.

Today, women are emerging in many sectors, from which, in the past, were quite absent, like

enterprise, politics and civil society. Today, women can aspire to have careers like men, cover

prestigious public roles and institutional leaders and reach business positions, but unfortunately

men dominate a lot of places yet.

Today, in Italy we have two women leaders: Emma Marcegaglia, businesswoman, and

Susanna Camusso, leader of the CGIL Trade Union. That said, in general, the representation of

women in Public Institutions is more limited than in the other Member States, where the

institutions express more “parity democracy”. In fact, women have to work more and harder to

reach the leadership than men in countries all over the world. The reasons for this inequality are

many, often cultural differences, but we can solve this critical problem through appropriate

gender policies, which really help women.

Statistics underline that the financial crisis hit Europe, caused major problem in the most

vulnerable population, and women are among those. Analysing Europe’s economic inactivity

rate (applied to people who are actively seeking work) 8.7mln men and 23.7mln women (8.2%

and 22.1% of the total) were in this situation in 2009. However, the situation of Europe is not

homogeneous. In Denmark and Sweden the inactivity rate was at 13%, whereas in Italy the rate

was at 35.5%. The economic crisis certainly exacerbated the situation, and now the economic

crisis is becoming an industrial and social crisis.

Women are the first to lose their jobs when there are problematic situations. Often are the same

women who chose staying home for family and children, trying to fill the shortage of welfare

services. In many countries women have the greatest difficulty to access the labour market

despite high female education. In many countries there is no way to balance career and family


Very often we see the practice of so-called “blank resignations”. Today many women work for

low wages (Please clarify the meaning of this with the author) This practice results in low


Many women are dismissed during pregnancy and many women give up returning to work after

having a child for the lack of support services.



Greater equality for all

If we analyse in detail the rate of female employment (Eurostat), we see that in the whole Euro

area, the rate fell by 0.6% between 1999 and 2009. In Italy the rate fell by 1.2%. Unfortunately

my country is in the queue across Europe: in Italy, only 50% of the mothers work and this is due

to the lack of welfare and protection services.

Work and motherhood are incompatible now. In my country the rate of female employment

decreases with the increase in the number of children, while in other countries it is exactly the


There is another problem, the time flexibility for work, the possibility to personalize the times

and to articulate their working time according to the different modes from the traditional, and

coordination between work time and those of public administration and services.

But things do not work the same way in all member states. To be citizens of the same Europe

and to be member states of the same Union should lead to the "imitation" of the best practices

that there are.

Italy, that is not so good regarding childcare should gain from following Sweden and Denmark.

Europe is also important for this: the best practices can be studied, exported and repurposed,

setting quality standards and maintaining them through monitoring operation and continuous


Women's employment is not only a problem from the point of view of women and of their rights,

but is a theme that affects the whole economy, the possibility of development of society: a

society cannot be on the top if it deprives itself from half of its capacities. All now recognise that

working women are an asset for everyone and often turn out better than their male colleagues.

The weight of women in the workplace can have a major impact on productive life, as claimed

by "womenomics" theories, the streams of studies that analyse the economic impact of women


The term comes from a study of Kathy Matsui, prepared for the study centre at Goldman Sachs

in 1999, which attributed the interruption of the growth of Japan to the low participation of

women in the workplace. These theories show the improvement of the percentage of women´s

employment and the removal of obstacles to women´s career has significant effects on the

GDP, the financial security of families, an increase of the performance by and creativity of

business, and more generally, puts the best conditions for the emancipation and independence

of women. A higher level of employment of women also develops an "economic multiplier",

increasing the demand for various services (childcare, elder care, catering services for

housing), usually performed by female spouses, which could be outsourced, as happens in

many in the north of the European Union, thereby creating additional employment.

Importance of women's political empowerment

A welfare model based on flexibility and adaptation to changing life and times of work related to

modern economies and society tending to reduce the barrier to social mobility "ex ante" through

a strong investment in child care, in primary education and improve education quality and

quantity of its economic performance.

A lot of people ask if these theories are still valid before of the current crisis. We believe that

they are more valid in a crisis.

If the first challenge is related to the crisis of public finances and the problem of sovereign debt

in order to boost the growth and employment, it is clear to everyone that there is a greater and

more profound challenge.

It is now obvious that the pattern of growth and economic output, which characterized the

development of society in recent decades, has proven unsuccessful in face of the crisis.

We must find the courage of a profound change and only the reform, democratic, socialist and

progressive forces can do it.

We need to revise the relationship between people and economy, between means and ends:

person of the economy and the economy for the person.

We must think of new ways of producing and consuming that respect each lives, and in the

case of women, even the uniqueness of a certain stage of life that may privilege some aspects,

like motherhood without being precluded from returning to full labour market.

An economy more human and more socially sustainable is not only a response to women´s life

but also the response to the need of change.

We have to change this economic model aimed only at profit, because it proved to be

inadequate bringing more destruction and poverty to growth and welfare.

Trying to reach these targets of general change is necessary because we need more women in

key positions in institutions, not just in the EU, but also at the national level. I think of the

financial organizations and other economic and monetary institutions that "govern" the world

are often more of the same elective institutions and democratic.

For the future there is still work to be done to give greater protection for women, so as to

guarantee them a true access to employment and ensuring careers equal to men’s. This will

guarantee greater equality for all.

More information:


Britta Thomsen

Member of the European Parliament,

Member of the PES Women Executive Board

S&D Group coordinator of the EP’s Committee on

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

Britta Thomsen

Importance of women's political empowerment

The importance of political

empowerment of women

Europe faces the biggest crisis since the end of the Second World War. In this time of crisis we

of course focus on bringing our economy back on track, but we must also focus on preventing a

social crisis. It is a well known fact, that when the economy is struck down by a crisis, the

highest price is paid by the most vulnerable sectors of society.

We know that women are more affected by poverty than men. Women receive lower salaries

than men and do not have the same access to high level positions in society. The

Commission's 2010 annual report on gender equality states that women on average earn

between 14-17 percent less than men. And we also know that especially single mothers and

elderly women are at high risk of poverty.

Women's low income and exposure to poverty is linked to the situation on the labour market.

Women are more likely to work on a part-time contract. They also need to give birth to children

and is still seen as the primary care person. Women depend on access to child care and

nurseries to be able to choose a more time-consuming career. In addition to this, women's

pension is often reduced compared to men's because of the part time contracts and maternity


In other words, there is still a lot we need to change in order to achieve more gender equality in

the European society. In that aspect it is a great concern that only 23 percent of national

parliamentary seats are held by women. Not to say, that men cannot or will not change the

reality of women today. But we must strive to achieve more diversity both at political level and

at business level. This diversity is also highly important for a thriving democracy.

At the overall level we must also discuss and confront cultural stereotypes. We still can observe

how the competences of female politicians are still doubted especially by the media. In addition

to that, female politicians often have to answer questions about their private life for example

regarding how they combine family life with a political career. Men are rarely asked the same

questions. It would be more relevant also to judge female politicians on their competences and

acts the same way we judge male politicians. Women play a great role in that aspect.

Sometimes women themselves pursue and maximize the cultural stereotypes.



The importance of political empowerment of women

The above underlines the great importance of strengthening gender equality at a European and

at a global level especially during these times of crisis. We must promote women’s

representation in politics as candidates and voters. We also need to promote the career

opportunities of women.

We need to adopt legislation that promotes gender mainstreaming and gender equality. But it is

still necessary to protect women through legislation for instance from exploitation like human

trafficking and prostitution.

To promote women's position on the labour market we must also make regulations regarding

maternity leave. The European Parliament adopted a modern and ambitious position on the

maternity leave directive guarantying all European women the right to 20 weeks of fully paid

leave and two weeks paternity leave for the father - also with full payment. Unfortunately the

Council is still blocking the directive so the situation still remains in a deadlock.

In Denmark, the centre-left wing government is preparing a law that earmarks one third of the

parental leave to the father after the Icelandic model. Only if we encourage families to share the

burden, we can break down the stereotype of women as the primary care person in families.

Hence that will improve the family-work balance, improve the rights of the father and help

women's participation on the labour market, women's carrier opportunities and diminish the

gender pay gap.

I would like to make one final point regarding women empowerment and that relates to the lack

of female representation in decision-making. It is a fact that financial and political power is

concentrated in boards and other decision-making arenas. If the women are not there they do

not have any influence on the important decisions that affect half of the population. Therefore it

is crucial that we take action on this as well. Different quota models have already been

introduced in several European countries, and now we are waiting on Commissioner Viviane

Reding to make a move. Legislation is the only way forward if we want anything to happen. We

have for a very long time impatiently watched businesses talk about volunteer measures to get

more women into the boards and executive positions. But nothing happens. It is time for

political action if we want a more gender-balanced Europe where women are recognised as

equally competent decision-makers as men.

We all want a prosperous and socially balanced Europe. For that to happen we need to keep

fighting for women's rights to be heard and participate in the society on an equal level with men.

It is all about working in the best interest of the next generation.

More information:

Attila Benedek

Special adviser on gender equality,

European Parliament

Márta Bonifert

CEE Network for Gender Issues

Attila Benedek – Márta Bonifert

Importance of women's political empowerment

Summary of major activities of

the CEE Network



The transition period in Central and Eastern Europe has not been even. It posed numerous

political, economic and social challenges. Women have experienced a heavy burden in this

process due to their unequal status. Moreover, in setting transition priorities gender equality

was often marginalized.

Socialist and social-democratic parties have been a strong political force to promote gender

equality in the political arena. From engendering party politics through the use of the quota

system to the training for women for public functions and politics, these parties and their

women’s wings have made a difference. The European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity,

the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the CEE Network on Gender Issues were vehicles

to turn this policy into practice in the region.

Track Record

CEE Network for Gender Issues has been established, under the auspices of the European

Forum for Democracy and Solidarity (Regional NGO initiated by the Party of European

Socialists – PES) in 1994. Its main activities were directed towards:

- The analysis of political, social, and economic trends as they relate to gender equality

in Central and Eastern European countries, the identification of challenges and

strategy formulation for socialist and social-democratic parties and their women’s


- Fostering dialogue, through the establishment of a gender network throughout the

region and with counterparts in other parts of Europe in order to help accession

countries to fulfil EU gender equality standards and particularly prepare for the

European Parliament elections.

- Raising awareness on gender issues in CEE within the European Forum, PES, SI and




Summary of major activities of the CEE Network (1994-2011)

- Support to international foundations within the European Forum in the coordination of

their work on gender.

- Sharing information with other non-governmental partners.

To this end the CEE Network developed a network of focal points in socialist and socialdemocratic

parties and organized strategy setting workshops on women in political decisionmaking

and elections; economic and social challenges of transition and their implications to

gender equality; minority women and their triple discrimination; women in media and family in

transition. Two publications on the above issues and numerous articles have been published by

the CEE Network members to inform the discussion and contribute to priority setting.

In 1996 the Network organized, in collaboration with the women’s organization of the Socialdemocratic

Party of the Czech Republic, a major international conference in Prague to discuss

progress made in promoting gender equality since the beginning of transition. The conference

gathered more than 100 participants from CEE and Western European socialist and socialdemocratic

parties and interested non-governmental organizations.

The Network was strengthened in 1998 by the establishment of an Office in Budapest.

Currently the Network has Offices in Ljubljana (South Eastern Europe); Budapest (Central

Europe); Tallin (the Baltic). It also worked on the analysis of gender equality issues in the EU

enlargement process.

Apart from a number of papers, the Network organized the first of its kind annual discussions

among SD women members of the Parliament from EU accession countries, taking place in

Budapest and Vienna.


The CEE Network continues to strengthen its support to women’s organizations, women MPs,

and party leaders from socialist-democratic parties in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe

through a thematic and sub-regional approach.


a) Support to the development of strategies and substantive capacity for the promotion

of women in political decision making within parties (including the implementation of

the quota system) and in electoral processes;

b) Support to the inclusion of gender concerns in the EU enlargement process through

advocacy, policy formulation, strategy setting and partnership with the PES.


a) The development of support to women’s organizations, women MPs, and party

leaders from socialist and social-democratic parties through its sub regional offices in

Importance of women's political empowerment

Tallinn (Baltic States, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus), Budapest (Central Europe) and

Ljubljana (South Eastern Europe)

b) Sub-regional strategy setting and mutual support through networking

c) Capacity development training programs tailored for each sub-region

d) Specific gender equality policy setting and advocacy campaigns - in 2004 on quota

for the first EU elections in new EU member states, in 2008 on catching up with EU

child care targets in new EU member states and EU neighbouring countries and

development of a pan- European campaign on parity for EU lections in 2009.


The CEE Network implements its programmes through strategic partnerships with:

a) Socialist and social-democratic parties and women’s groups in Europe

b) European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and the PES, SI and SIW

c) European foundations supporting the work of the European Forum

d) European Commission Expert group on women in political decision making

(established in June 2008 in Brussels)

Implementation tools include:

a) a Format of annul MP/MEP strategy consultations and recommendations

b) b Women Can Do It I, II, III training and Youth Can Do It training custom tailored subregionally

and thematically

c) c The CEE Network web site (within the European Forum web site)

d) d The CEE Network publications

The CEE Network tries to ensure a gender balance in its work. Male leaders in political parties

have been instrumental to help push the equality agenda forward. It is a story of shared goals

and gender collaboration.


Among its most important successes the Network can highlight:

Training: In 1998 the CEE Network provided the translation Women Can Do It (Norwegian

manual) in 10 languages of transition countries and organized training sessions in nearly all

CEE countries. The positive effect (time, effort, and money well spent) of the Women Can Do It

– Phase 1 project has been widely recognized. It was picked up by the Stability Pact for South

Eastern Europe Gender Task Force – SP GTF (OSCE) and has been implemented throughout

SEE region, training more than 16.000 women from different political option for public functions.

Till August 2004, 24 SD parties from 12 transition countries (out of it 12 with some kind of the

status in the SI, and 7 close to the SI), held seminars for their women’s organizations. In 2003



Summary of major activities of the CEE Network (1994-2011)

the CEE Network developed a new training module: Youth Can Do It with training sessions for

SD youth and women organizations in the SEE.

Women in Politics: As a result of the two years systematic work of the CEE Network with SD

parties and broader women movements in eight accession countries – Estonia, Latvia,

Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, EU enlargement did not

end up in the significant drop of women MEPs and commissioners. This engendered political

platforms of most of socialist and social democratic parties in transition. The average number of

women MEPs from these eight countries increased from 14% of women observers in the former

European Parliament to 29,5% of elected women MEPs in the new one. Five out of these eight

countries contributed more than overall average of women MEPs (30,3%): Slovenia (42%),

Lithuania (38%), Slovakia (33%), Hungary and Estonia (33%). Out of eight women

commissioners, three are coming from these eight new EU member states: Latvia, Lithuania,

and Poland. Out of 9 Hungarian socialist MEPs five are women.

The quota: Through constant work with women’s organizations and political party leaderships

the quota system was introduced in most socialist and social democratic parties in the region,

with tangible results at elections – some countries like Croatia – mostly because of the quota in

the SDP – increased the number of elected women from 5% to 21%. In 2007 CEE network

started a broad lobbying for the pan European Parity in the Law Campaign. In 2008 European

Women’s Lobby and PES W accepted to be partners in this endeavour, starting with PES W

pledge for parity in all decision making in the European parliament electoral campaign in 2009.

Results of the European Parliament Elections 2009; Representation of Women: The 2009

European elections took place in the 27 Member States on 4-7 June 2009. Among the

European Institutions the only directly elected institution was the EP. After the elections, the

percentage of women in the European Parliament (EP), stands at 35%.

Altough the results are a progress compared to the approximate 30% at the beginning of the

1999-2004 term and 16% for the first EP election in 1979, the EP again fails to attain parity or

even the 40% of women threshold agreed by Member States of the Council of Europe.

More information:

Closing remarks

Importance of women's political empowerment

For the last two years, in the middle of an unprecedented economic, financial and social crisis,

we have been witnessing an increasing understanding of the need to empower women and to

adopt measures to increase social, economic and political equity.

The main aim of this publication was to collect relevant strategies and best practices in order to

start a common thinking on how to put more women in charge especially in political and

economic fields. The workshop co-organized by the Foundation of European Progressive

Studies and the CEE Network for Gender Studies aimed to assess the possible answers and

tools to improve women’s political empowerment. Our societies are experiencing a dramatically

changing period, where the future of the next generations suddenly appears uncertain, and

where the cohesion of our societies is threatened. Therefore it is not only a matter of the EU

institutions, nor an issue restricted to Europe. It is a global problem with specific regional


While the majority of female politicians, civil activists and NGOs members gave their own,

sometimes complex, receipt for the same issue, the overall conclusion was unanimous:

women’s political empowerment is a key accelerator for economic and social progress.

However, nowadays, while some women manage to reach key political decisional seats, it

appears that there is still a large gap and that women need to be reconciled with politics. Not

only because men have claimed the political power for themselves for decades and centuries.

But also because women argue that politics and power carry the same meaning and that power

politics is a concept they do not want to be associated with.

All this is a matter of definition. Power should not be seen as something negative by women.

Power, in fact, gives one the resources, the possibilities to pursue the values and aims we

believe in. As women are often more concerned by the common welfare of our societies, and

the future of our children, they should not exclude themselves from politics. On the contrary,

they have a responsibility to be involved. But they also need to be encouraged and supported,

which supposes to create the appropriate conditions for this empowerment.

Furthermore, all countries in the world that call themselves democratic should give an

appropriate share of the leading positions to women, who account for half of their population.

Despite some major progress, this is still far from being the case and women still have to be

stronger, to prove more and to jump more hurdles than men.

Therefore, one of the common results of this publication is the support of gender quotas, for

political parties, for government offices, as well as for companies and international





The articles of the contributors show that women’s political empowerment can only be achieved

by a combination of several strategies, such as:

� Legal framework: women’s rights must be included in the country’s constitution and in

specific laws referring to the social, economic and political situation;

� The effective implementation of such legal framework, as well as efforts in education

in order to raise women’s awareness about their rights;

� A strong commitment of political parties, pointing women’s empowerment as a major

policy and setting up special departments and/or programmes; as well as promoting

gender mainstreaming.

� A strong network of women’s organizations at international, national, regional and

local level.


Importance of women's political empowerment

Members of the Group of the Progressive

Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the

European Parliament

in the 7th parlamentary term (2009-2014)


Hannes SWOBODA Chair Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs

Véronique DE KEYSER Vice-Chair Belgium Parti Socialiste

Enrique GUERRERO SALOM Vice-Chair Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Sylvie GUILLAUME Vice-Chair France Parti socialiste

Stephen HUGHES Vice-Chair United Kingdom Labour Party

Rovana PLUMB Vice-Chair Romania Partidul Social Democrat

Bernhard RAPKAY Vice-Chair Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Libor ROUČEK Vice-Chair Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Patrizia TOIA Vice-Chair Italy Partito Democratico

Marita ULVSKOG Vice-Chair Sweden Arbetarepartiet- Socialdemokraterna

Edit HERCZOG Treasurer Hungary Magyar Szocialista Párt

President of the European Parliament

Martin SCHULZ Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands




Vice Presidents of the European Parliament

Gianni PITTELLA Italy Partito Democratico

Miguel Angel MARTÍNEZ MARTÍNEZ Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Anni PODIMATA Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement

Chairs of the European Parliament’s standing committees

Pervenche BERÈS France Parti socialiste (EMPL)

Paolo DE CASTRO Italy Partito Democratico (AGRI)

Matthias GROOTE Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (ENVI)

Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español (LIBE)

Vital MOREIRA Portugal Partido Socialista (INTA)

Brian SIMPSON United Kingdom Labour Party (TRAN)

Vice Chairs of the European Parliament’s standing committees

Luigi BERLINGUER Italy Partito Democratico (JURI)

Corina CREŢU Romania Partidul Social Democrat (DEVE)

Dimitrios DROUTSAS Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement (ITRE)

Edite ESTRELA Portugal Partido Socialista (FEMM)

Kinga GÖNCZ Hungary Magyar Szocialista Párt (LIBE)

Louis GRECH Malta Partit Laburista (IMCO)

Zita GURMAI Hungary Magyar Szocialista Párt (AFCO)

Jutta HAUG Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (BUDG)

Dan JØRGENSEN Denmark Socialdemokratiet (ENVI)

Ivailo KALFIN Bulgaria Coalition for Bulgaria (BUDG)

Importance of women's political empowerment

Bogusław LIBERADZKI Poland Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (CONT)

Kyriakos MAVRONIKOLAS Cyprus Movement for Social Democracy EDEK (SEDE)

Arlene McCARTHY United Kingdom Labour Party (ECON)

Guido MILANA Italy Partito Democratico (PECH)

Justas Vincas PALECKIS Lithuania Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija (SEDE)

Chrysoula PALIADELI Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PETI)

Ioan Mircea PAŞCU Romania Partidul Social Democrat (AFET)

Evelyn REGNER Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs (JURI)

Edward SCICLUNA Malta Partit Laburista (ECON)

Joanna SENYSZYN Poland Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (DROI)

Georgios STAVRAKAKIS Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement (REGI)

Silvia-Adriana ŢICĂU Romania Partidul Social Democrat (TRAN)

Patrizia TOIA Italy Partito Democratico (ITRE)

Bernadette VERGNAUD France Parti socialiste (IMCO)


Luís Paulo ALVES Portugal Partido Socialista

Josefa ANDRÉS BAREA Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Kader ARIF France Parti socialiste

Pino ARLACCHI Italy Partito Democratico




Kriton ARSENIS Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement

John ATTARD-MONTALTO Malta Partit Laburista

Inés AYALA SENDER Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Maria BADIA i CUTCHET Spain Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya

Zigmantas BALČYTIS Lithuania Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija

Francesca BALZANI Italy Partito Democratico

Thijs BERMAN Netherlands Partij van de Arbeid

Vilija BLINKEVIČIŪTĖ Lithuania Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija

Rita BORSELLINO Italy Partito Democratico

Victor BOŞTINARU Romania Partidul Social Democrat

Emine BOZKURT Netherlands Partij van de Arbeid

Zuzana BRZOBOHATÁ Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Udo BULLMANN Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Luis Manuel CAPOULAS SANTOS Portugal Partido Socialista

Salvatore CARONNA Italy Partito Democratico

Michael CASHMAN United Kingdom Labour Party

Françoise CASTEX France Parti socialiste

Alejandro CERCAS Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Nessa CHILDERS Ireland Labour Party

Ole CHRISTENSEN Denmark Socialdemokratiet

Sergio Gaetano COFFERATI Italy Partito Democratico

António Fernando CORREIA DE CAMPOS Portugal Parti socialiste

Ricardo CORTÉS LASTRA Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Silvia COSTA Italy Partito Democratico

Emer COSTELLO Ireland Labour Party

Andrea COZZOLINO Italy Partito Democratico

Rosario CROCETTA Italy Partito Democratico

Joseph CUSCHIERI Malta Partit Laburista

Importance of women's political empowerment

George Sabin CUTAŞ Romania Partidul Social Democrat + Partidul Conservator

Frédéric DAERDEN Belgium Parti Socialiste

Vasilica Viorica DĂNCILĂ Romania Partidul Social Democrat

Spyros DANELLIS Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement

Francesco DE ANGELIS Italy Partito Democratico

Harlem DÉSIR France Parti socialiste

Leonardo DOMENICI Italy Partito Democratico

Robert DUŠEK Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Saïd EL KHADRAOUI Belgium Socialistische Partij.Anders

Ioan ENCIU Romania Partidul Social Democrat

Ismail ERTUG Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Tanja FAJON Slovenia Socialni demokrati

Richard FALBR Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Göran FÄRM Sweden Arbetarepartiet- Socialdemokraterna




Elisa FERREIRA Portugal Partido Socialista

Monika FLAŠÍKOVÁ BEŇOVÁ Slovakia SMER-Sociálna demokracia

Knut FLECKENSTEIN Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Vicente Miguel GARCÉS RAMÓN Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Dolores GARCÍA-HIERRO CARABALLO Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Iratxe GARCÍA PÉREZ Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Eider GARDIAZÁBAL RUBIAL Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Evelyne GEBHARDT Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Jens GEIER Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Lidia Joanna GERINGER de OEDENBERG Poland Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej

Adam GIEREK Poland Unia Pracy

Norbert GLANTE Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Robert GOEBBELS Luxembourg Parti ouvrier socialiste luxembourgeois

Ana GOMES Portugal Partido Socialista

Estelle GRELIER France Parti socialiste

Roberto GUALTIERI Italy Partito Democratico

Sergio GUTIÉRREZ PRIETO Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Jiří HAVEL Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Anna HEDH Sweden Arbetarepartiet- Socialdemokraterna

Liem HOANG NGOC France Parti socialiste

Mary HONEYBALL United Kingdom Labour Party

Richard HOWITT United Kingdom Labour Party

Iliana Malinova IOTOVA Bulgaria Coalition for Bulgaria

María IRIGOYEN PÉREZ Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Cătălin Sorin IVAN Romania Partidul Social Democrat

Importance of women's political empowerment

Liisa JAAKONSAARI Finland Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue/Finlands

Socialdemokratiska Parti

Karin KADENBACH Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs

Petra KAMMEREVERT Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Evgeni KIRILOV Bulgaria Coalition for Bulgaria

Mojca KLEVA Slovenia Socialni demokrati

Maria Eleni KOPPA Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement

Constanze Angela KREHL Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Wolfgang KREISSL-DÖRFLER Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Bernd LANGE Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Stéphane LE FOLL France Parti socialiste

Jörg LEICHTFRIED Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs

Jo LEINEN Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Olle LUDVIGSSON Sweden Arbetarepartiet- Socialdemokraterna

Linda McAVAN United Kingdom Labour Party

Vladimír MAŇKA Slovakia SMER-Sociálna demokracia

David MARTIN United Kingdom Labour Party

Antonio MASIP HIDALGO Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español




Emilio MENÉNDEZ del VALLE Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Judith A. MERKIES Netherlands Partij van de Arbeid

Alexander MIRSKY Latvia

Claude MORAES United Kingdom Labour Party

María MUÑIZ DE URQUIZA Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Norbert NEUSER Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Katarína NEVEĎALOVÁ Slovakia SMER-Sociálna demokracia

Jens NILSSON Sweden Arbetarepartiet- Socialdemokraterna

Raimon OBIOLS Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Wojciech Michał OLEJNICZAK Poland Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej

Ivari PADAR Estonia Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond

Pier Antonio PANZERI Italy Partito Democratico

Antigoni PAPADOPOULOU Cyprus Democratic Party

Gilles PARGNEAUX France Parti socialiste

Vincent PEILLON France Parti socialiste

Andres PERELLO RODRIGUEZ Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Mario PIRILLO Italy Partito Democratico

Pavel POC Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Phil PRENDERGAST Ireland Labour Party

Vittorio PRODI Italy Partito Democratico

Sylvana RAPTI Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement

Importance of women's political empowerment

Mitro REPO Finland Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue/Finlands Socialdemokratiska Parti

Teresa RIERA MADURELL Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Ulrike RODUST Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Carmen ROMERO LÓPEZ Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Dagmar ROTH-BEHRENDT Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Antolín SÁNCHEZ PRESEDO Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Daciana Octavia SÂRBU Romania Partidul Social Democrat

David-Maria SASSOLI Italy Partito Democratico

Christel SCHALDEMOSE Denmark Socialdemokratiet

Olga SEHNALOVÁ Czech Republic Česká strana sociálně demokratická

Debora SERRACCHIANI Italy Partito Democratico

Peter SIMON Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Birgit SIPPEL Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Marek SIWIEC Poland Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej

Peter SKINNER United Kingdom Labour Party

Monika SMOLKOVÁ Slovakia SMER-Sociálna demokracia

Jutta STEINRUCK Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Catherine STIHLER United Kingdom Labour Party

Gianluca SUSTA Italy

Csaba Sándor TABAJDI Hungary Magyar Szocialista Párt

Claudiu Ciprian TĂNĂSESCU Romania Partidul Social Democrat




Marc TARABELLA Belgium Parti Socialiste

Britta THOMSEN Denmark Socialdemokratiet

Patrice TIROLIEN France Parti socialiste

Catherine TRAUTMANN France Parti socialiste

Kathleen VAN BREMPT Belgium Socialistische Partij.Anders

Derek VAUGHAN United Kingdom Labour Party

Kristian VIGENIN Bulgaria Coalition for Bulgaria

Henri WEBER France Parti socialiste

Josef WEIDENHOLZER Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs

Barbara WEILER Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Åsa WESTLUND Sweden Arbetarepartiet- Socialdemokraterna

Kerstin WESTPHAL Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Glenis WILLMOTT United Kingdom Labour Party

Luis YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO GARCÍA Spain Partido Socialista Obrero Español

Boris ZALA Slovakia SMER-Sociálna demokracia

Janusz Władysław ZEMKE Poland Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej

Annex II

Charts and figures

Women in national Parliaments

Rank Country

Importance of women's political empowerment

Lower or single House Upper House or Senate

Elections Seats Women % W Elections Seats Women % W

1 Rwanda 9 2008 80 45 56.3% 9 2011 26 10 38.5%

2 Andorra 4 2011 28 14 50.0% --- --- --- ---

3 Sweden 9 2010 349 157 45.0% --- --- --- ---

4 South Africa 4 2009 400 178 44.5% 4 2009 54 16 29.6%

5 Seychelles 9 2011 32 14 43.8% --- --- --- ---

6 Cuba 1 2008 586 253 43.2% --- --- --- ---

7 Iceland 4 2009 63 27 42.9% --- --- --- ---

8 Finland 4 2011 200 85 42.5% --- --- --- ---

9 Nicaragua 11 2011 92 37 40.2% --- --- --- ---

10 Norway 9 2009 169 67 39.6% --- --- --- ---

11 Belgium 6 2010 150 59 39.3% 6 2010 71 26 36.6%

" Netherlands 6 2010 150 59 39.3% 5 2011 75 27 36.0%

12 Mozambique 10 2009 250 98 39.2% --- --- --- ---

13 Denmark 9 2011 179 70 39.1% --- --- --- ---

14 Angola 9 2008 220 85 38.6% --- --- --- ---

" Costa Rica 2 2010 57 22 38.6% --- --- --- ---

15 Argentina 10 2011 257 96 37.4% 10 2011 72 28 38.9%

16 Spain 11 2011 350 126 36.0% 11 2011 263 88 33.5%


United Republic

of Tanzania

10 2010 350 126 36.0% --- --- --- ---

17 Uganda 2 2011 375 131 34.9% --- --- --- ---




18 Nepal 4 2008 594 197 33.2% --- --- --- ---

19 Germany 9 2009 622 204 32.8% N.A. 69 15 21.7%

20 Ecuador 4 2009 124 40 32.3% --- --- --- ---

21 New Zealand 11 2011 121 39 32.2% --- --- --- ---

22 Burundi 7 2010 106 34 32.1% 7 2010 41 19 46.3%

23 Belarus 9 2008 110 35 31.8% 7 2008 58 19 32.8%


The f.Y.R. of


6 2011 123 38 30.9% --- --- --- ---

25 Timor-Leste 6 2007 65 19 29.2% --- --- --- ---


Trinidad and


5 2010 42 12 28.6% 6 2010 31 8 25.8%

27 Switzerland 10 2011 200 57 28.5% 10 2011 46 9 19.6%

28 Austria 9 2008 183 51 27.9% N.A. 61 18 29.5%

29 Ethiopia 5 2010 547 152 27.8% 5 2010 135 22 16.3%

30 Afghanistan 9 2010 249 69 27.7% 1 2011 102 28 27.5%

31 Portugal 6 2011 230 61 26.5% --- --- --- ---

" South Soudan 8 2011 332 88 26.5% 8 2011 50 5 10.0%

32 Tunisia 10 2011 217 57 26.3% --- --- --- ---

33 Mexico 7 2009 500 131 26.2% 7 2006 128 29 22.7%

34 Monaco 2 2008 23 6 26.1% --- --- --- ---

35 Bolivia 12 2009 130 33 25.4% 12 2009 36 17 47.2%

36 Iraq 3 2010 325 82 25.2% --- --- --- ---

37 Sudan 4 2010 346 87 25.1% 5 2010 28 5 17.9%


Lao People's



4 2011 132 33 25.0% --- --- --- ---

39 Australia 8 2010 150 37 24.7% 8 2010 76 27 35.5%

" Canada 5 2011 308 76 24.7% N.A. 103 37 35.9%

40 Namibia 11 2009 78 19 24.4% 11 2010 26 7 26.9%

" Viet Nam 5 2011 500 122 24.4% --- --- --- ---

Importance of women's political empowerment

41 Lesotho 2 2007 120 29 24.2% 3 2007 33 6 18.2%

42 Liechtenstein 2 2009 25 6 24.0% --- --- --- ---

43 Poland 10 2011 460 110 23.9% 10 2011 100 13 13.0%

44 Croatia 11 2007 153 36 23.5% --- --- --- ---

45 Kyrgyzstan 10 2010 120 28 23.3% --- --- --- ---

46 Senegal 6 2007 150 34 22.7% 8 2007 100 40 40.0%

47 Pakistan 2 2008 342 76 22.2% 3 2009 100 17 17.0%

" Singapore 5 2011 90 20 22.2% --- --- --- ---

48 Mauritania 11 2006 95 21 22.1% 11 2009 56 8 14.3%

" Philippines 5 2010 280 62 22.1% 5 2010 23 3 13.0%

49 Czech Republic 5 2010 200 44 22.0% 10 2010 81 15 18.5%

" Eritrea 2 1994 150 33 22.0% --- --- --- ---

" United Kingdom 5 2010 650 143 22.0% N.A. 733 147 20.1%

" Uzbekistan 12 2009 150 33 22.0% 1 2010 100 15 15.0%

50 Serbia 5 2008 250 54 21.6% --- --- --- ---

51 Peru 4 2011 130 28 21.5% --- --- --- ---

52 China 3 2008 2987 637 21.3% --- --- --- ---

" Italy 4 2008 630 134 21.3% 4 2008 321 59 18.4%

53 Cambodia 7 2008 123 26 21.1% 1 2006 61 9 14.8%

54 Latvia 9 2011 100 21 21.0% --- --- --- ---

55 Bulgaria 7 2009 240 50 20.8% --- --- --- ---

" Cape Verde 2 2011 72 15 20.8% --- --- --- ---




5 2010 183 38 20.8% 5 2010 32 3 9.4%

" Malawi 5 2009 192 40 20.8% --- --- --- ---

56 Luxembourg 6 2009 60 12 20.0% --- --- --- ---

57 Estonia 3 2011 101 20 19.8% --- --- --- ---

58 Israel 2 2009 120 23 19.2% --- --- --- ---

59 Lithuania 10 2008 141 27 19.1% --- --- --- ---




60 El Salvador 1 2009 84 16 19.0% --- --- --- ---

" Tajikistan 2 2010 63 12 19.0% 3 2010 34 5 14.7%

61 France 6 2007 577 109 18.9% 9 2011 348 77 22.1%

62 Mauritius 5 2010 69 13 18.8% --- --- --- ---


Republic of


11 2010 101 19 18.8% --- --- --- ---

63 Bangladesh 12 2008 345 64 18.6% --- --- --- ---


Sao Tome and


8 2010 55 10 18.2% --- --- --- ---

65 Honduras 11 2009 128 23 18.0% --- --- --- ---

" Indonesia 4 2009 560 101 18.0% --- --- --- ---

66 Kazakhstan 8 2007 107 19 17.8% 8 2011 47 ? ?



United Arab


Saint Vincent and

the Grenadines

9 2011 40 7 17.5% --- --- --- ---

12 2010 23 4 17.4% --- --- --- ---

69 Greece 10 2009 300 52 17.3% --- --- --- ---

70 Venezuela 9 2010 165 28 17.0% --- --- --- ---


United States of


11 2010 434 73 16.8% 11 2010 100 17 17.0%

" Turkmenistan 12 2008 125 21 16.8% --- --- --- ---


Bosnia and


10 2010 42 7 16.7% 6 2011 15 2 13.3%

" Morocco 11 2011 395 66 16.7% 10.2009 270 6 2.2%

" San Marino 11 2008 60 10 16.7% --- --- --- ---

73 Albania 6 2009 140 23 16.4% --- --- --- ---

74 Azerbaijan 11 2010 125 20 16.0% --- --- --- ---

" Slovakia 6 2010 150 24 16.0% --- --- --- ---

75 Thailand 7 2011 500 79 15.8% 4 2011 149 23 15.4%




3 2009 687 107 15.6% --- --- --- ---

Republic of


Importance of women's political empowerment

77 Burkina Faso 5 2007 111 17 15.3% --- --- --- ---

78 Uruguay 10 2009 99 15 15.2% 10 2009 31 4 12.9%

79 Ireland 2 2011 166 25 15.1% 4 2011 60 18 30.0%

80 Zimbabwe 3 2008 214 32 15.0% 3 2008 99 24 24.2%

81 Gabon 1 2009 116 17 14.7% 1 2009 102 18 17.6%


Republic of


4 2008 299 44 14.7% --- --- --- ---

82 Slovenia 9 2008 90 13 14.4% 11 2007 40 1 2.5%

83 Chile 12 2009 120 17 14.2% 12 2009 38 5 13.2%

" Turkey 6 2011 550 78 14.2% --- --- --- ---




12 2007 450 63 14.0% N.A. 169 8 4.7%

85 Cameroon 7 2007 180 25 13.9% --- --- --- ---

86 Djibouti 2 2008 65 9 13.8% --- --- --- ---

87 Swaziland 9 2008 66 9 13.6% 10 2008 30 12 40.0%

88 Grenada 7 2008 15 2 13.3% 8 2008 13 4 30.8%

" Jamaica 9 2007 60 8 13.3% 9 2007 21 5 23.8%

" Niger 1 2011 113 15 13.3% --- --- --- ---

89 Sierra Leone 8 2007 121 16 13.2% --- --- --- ---

90 Chad 2 2011 188 24 12.8% --- --- --- ---

91 Colombia 3 2010 166 21 12.7% 3 2010 102 16 15.7%


Central African


1 2011 104 13 12.5% --- --- --- ---

" Dominica 12 2009 32 4 12.5% --- --- --- ---

" Madagascar 10 2010 256 32 12.5% 10 2010 90 10 11.1%

" Paraguay 4 2008 80 10 12.5% 4 2008 45 7 15.6%


Syrian Arab


4 2007 250 31 12.4% --- --- --- ---




94 Bahamas 5 2007 41 5 12.2% 5 2007 15 5 33.3%

95 Romania 11 2008 334 38 11.4% 11 2008 137 8 5.8%

96 Japan 8 2009 480 54 11.3% 7 2010 242 44 18.2%

97 Montenegro 3 2009 81 9 11.1% --- --- --- ---

" Togo 10 2007 81 9 11.1% --- --- --- ---

98 Zambia 9 2011 155 17 11.0% --- --- --- ---

99 India 4 2009 545 59 10.8% 3 2010 242 25 10.3%

" Jordan 11 2010 120 13 10.8% 10 2011 60 7 11.7%

100 Cyprus 5 2011 56 6 10.7% --- --- --- ---


Antigua and


3 2009 19 2 10.5% 4 2009 17 5 29.4%

102 Mali 7 2007 147 15 10.2% --- --- --- ---

103 Bahrain 9 2011 40 4 10.0% 11 2010 40 11 27.5%

" Barbados 1 2008 30 3 10.0% 2 2008 21 7 33.3%




5 2008 100 10 10.0% --- --- --- ---

" Guinea-Bissau 11 2008 100 10 10.0% --- --- --- ---

104 Malaysia 3 2008 222 22 9.9% N.A. 64 18 28.1%

105 Kenya 12 2007 224 22 9.8% --- --- --- ---

" Suriname 5 2010 51 5 9.8% --- --- --- ---

106 Armenia 5 2007 131 12 9.2% --- --- --- ---

107 Hungary 4 2010 386 35 9.1% --- --- --- ---

108 Cote d'Ivoire 12 2000 203 18 8.9% --- --- --- ---

109 Kiribati 10 2011 46 4 8.7% --- --- --- ---

" Malta 3 2008 69 6 8.7% --- --- --- ---

110 Brazil 10 2010 513 44 8.6% 10 2010 81 13 16.0%

111 Bhutan 3 2008 47 4 8.5% 12 2007 25 6 24.0%

" Panama 5 2009 71 6 8.5% --- --- --- ---

112 Benin 4 2011 83 7 8.4% --- --- --- ---

Importance of women's political empowerment

113 Ghana 12 2008 230 19 8.3% --- --- --- ---

114 Ukraine 9 2007 450 36 8.0% --- --- --- ---

115 Botswana 10 2009 63 5 7.9% --- --- --- ---

116 Algeria 5 2007 389 30 7.7% 12 2009 136 7 5.1%

" Kuwait 5 2009 65 5 7.7% --- --- --- ---

117 Gambia 1 2002 53 4 7.5% --- --- --- ---

118 Congo 6 2007 137 10 7.3% 10 2011 72 10 13.9%

119 Somalia 8 2004 546 37 6.8% --- --- --- ---


Saint Kitts and


1 2010 15 1 6.7% --- --- --- ---

" Tuvalu 9 2010 15 1 6.7% --- --- --- ---

121 Georgia 5 2008 138 9 6.5% --- --- --- ---

" Maldives 5 2009 77 5 6.5% --- --- --- ---

122 Sri Lanka 4 2010 225 13 5.8% --- --- --- ---

123 Myanmar 11 2010 326 14 4.3% 11 2010 168 6 3.6%

124 Haiti 11 2010 95 4 4.2% 11 2010 30 1 3.3%

125 Samoa 3 2011 49 2 4.1% --- --- --- ---

126 Mongolia 6 2008 76 3 3.9% --- --- --- ---

127 Nigeria 4 2011 352 13 3.7% 4 2011 109 4 3.7%

128 Tonga 11 2010 28 1 3.6% --- --- --- ---

129 Lebanon 6 2009 128 4 3.1% --- --- --- ---

130 Comoros 12 2009 33 1 3.0% --- --- --- ---


Iran (Islamic

Republic of)

3 2008 290 8 2.8% --- --- --- ---

132 Vanuatu 9 2008 52 1 1.9% --- --- --- ---

133 Oman 10 2011 84 1 1.2% 10 2011 83 15 18.1%


Papua New


6 2007 109 1 0.9% --- --- --- ---

135 Yemen 4 2003 301 1 0.3% 4 2001 111 2 1.8%




136 Belize 2 2008 32 0 0.0% 3 2008 13 5 38.5%




States of)

3 2011 14 0 0.0% --- --- --- ---

" Nauru 6 2010 18 0 0.0% --- --- --- ---

" Palau 11 2008 16 0 0.0% 11 2008 13 2 15.4%

" Qatar 7 2010 35 0 0.0% --- --- --- ---

" Saudi Arabia 2 2009 150 0 0.0% --- --- --- ---

" Solomon Islands 8 2010 50 0 0.0% --- --- --- ---



Republic of the


11 2011 500 ? ? 1 2007 108 5 4.6%

? Guatemala 9 2011 158 ? ? --- --- --- ---

? Guyana 11 2011 70 ? ? --- --- --- ---

? Liberia 10 2011 73 ? ? 10 2011 30 ? ?

? Marshall Islands 11 2007 33 ? ? --- --- --- ---

" Saint Lucia 11 2011 18 ? ? 1 2007 11 4 36.4%

Situation as of 30 November 2011.

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

Importance of women's political empowerment

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union




The cost of childcare in EU countries

Importance of women's political empowerment




Source: The Cost of Childcare in EU Countries. European Parliament, Policy Department, Economic and Scientific Policy, 2007

Importance of women's political empowerment

Legal instruments (quotas) to narrow the gender gap in corporate management boards

in European and OECD countries
























Applicability Target for


Companies owned 50%+

by state.

Phased timing by company

legal status:

State-owned companies

Listed companies

Small and medium sized

listed companies;

companies with less than

50% shares listed.


2 phases:




Year to be


2 phases:




timing by


legal status:




State-owned companies. 30% Immediate

State-owned companies.

Listed companies;

companies with 500+

employees or

turnover/asset of €50m+.

State-owned and municipalowned


Public and private limited

companies with 50+


40% 2005

2 phases:



2 phases:



50% (or as Immediate

close as


40% 2013

State-owned companies. 40% No deadline

State-owned companies. 30% No deadline

Listed companies;

companies with public

participation and stateownership.

2 phases:



2 phases:



Penalties for


No sanctions.

Temporary loss of

financial and nonfinancial


by board


Annulment of



Verbal sanction by

regulatory body

(Consob); fine;

voiding of board’s














Public limited companies;

state owned companies;

intermunicipal companies.

Public limited companies

with 250+ employees.



State-owned companies. 30% 2011

All companies (regardless

of listing, ownership,

private/public) with 250+

employees (or turnover


30% in

boards and




2008 Official warning;

fines; ultimate

delisting and


2015 No penalties;

incentive: potential

priority status for



2016 No sanctions in

law. Comply or

explain in annual

report and publish

action plan to


Source: Jo Armstrong (2012): Gender Quotas in Management Boards. European Parliament,

Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department C, Citizens’ rights and

constitutional affairs, pp.30-31.

Gender quotas in the EU

Source: Der Spiegel

Importance of women's political empowerment




Proportion of women at major German companies

Source: Der Spiegel

CEE Network for Gender Issues

The CEE Network provided support to women politicians and those active in public life in the

region as early as 1994. The Bejing Conference in 1995 represented a major breakthrough for

women in the region – many women activists went to Bejing, collected experiences of others,

participated in joint activities, and came home emboldened to push the gender agenda forward.

Some chose to do this through NGO activities and others found their political vocation. The

CEE Network itself realised that it could assist this process through a two-pronged approach by:

Strengthening women’s organizations within political parties and engaging social-democratic

and socialist politicians, parties and regional conglomerations in the discourse on gender

equality establishing ties between and among women politicians and women’s NGO groups and

leaders to foster dialogue and joint action in the promotion of gender equality.

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) is the European progressive political

foundation. Close to the Party of European Socialists (PES) but nevertheless independent,

FEPS embodies a new way of thinking on the social democratic, socialist and labour scene in

Europe. FEPS establishes an intellectual crossroad between social democracy and the

European project, putting fresh thinking at the core of its action. As a platform for ideas, FEPS

works in close collaboration with social democratic organisations, and in particular national

foundations and think tanks, to tackle the challenges that Europe faces today.

Being a progressive European think tank, next to essential issues like the Next Left research

project, research on sustainable economy or creating new global solidarities, we are convinced

that gender issues also play a significant role in the creation of a fairer and more solidaritybased

society. Several successful initiatives - including the annual transatlantic meeting on

gender issues and the “Clara Zetkin could do it. So can we!” platform for discussion - have been

launched within the gender, diversity and democracy research project. This aims to give an

impetus to the debate on the notion of inclusive society, by focusing on issues like gender

equality, migration, minorities and active democracy. Currently these areas are far too often

addressed in a populist, simplistic and incoherent way in the political debate, with many

discrepancies between vision and policies realised. Therefore, there is a need for reflection on

long-term vision with adequate policies, as well as establishing communication strategies on

these highly emotional issues.

For further information please, have a look at the FEPS website,, or

contact Ernst Stetter, FEPS Secretary General ( or Judit

Tánczos, FEPS Policy Advsior (

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