European Women’s Voice: Austerity


Women & Decision-Making

#WomenInPolitics 2015

Women on Boards in Europe 2015 report

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> 50/50 Campaign 2012 until 50/50

The 50/50 campaign aims to promote the equal representation of women and men in all European institutions to put issues of women’s rights and gender equality high on the EU political agenda. The campaign is led by the European Women’s Lobby, and kindly supported by a Campaign Core Group of MEP’s Anneli Jäätteenmäki /ALDE, Ulrike Lunacek /Greens/EFA, Kartika Liotard/GUE-NGL, Sirpa Pietikäinen/EPP and Zita Gurmai/S&D.


Finland: NYTKIS “Soup Sisters” event brings candidates and voters together in Helsinki to discuss gender equality

Posted on 26 June 2015

Finland: NYTKIS “Soup Sisters” event brings candidates and voters together in Helsinki to discuss gender equality

[Brussels, 10 April 2015] On Wednesday, EWL member NYTKIS (Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations) organised an event in Narinkkatori Square called “Soup Sisters” (Soppaa Siskoilta). Nearly 300 people came out to savor free vegetable soup and to listen to more than 20 candidates from different political parties speak about gender equality and their goals for advancing it.

NYTKIS Coordinator, Milla Sandt told us: “The afternoon was very successful. The sun was shining, there were many good conversations and we got positive feedback from the audience and the candidates.”

Many thanks to Petra Qvist-Hämäläinen for the picture of Anna Jungner-Nordgren (chair of The Women’s Organisation of the Swedish People’s Party in Finland).

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Outcomes and Outlooks:

The results of Finland’s April 19 election and the lead-up to the UK’s General Election May 7

Posted on 26 June 2015

Outcomes and Outlooks:

[Brussels, 24 April 2015] As part of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) 50/50 campaign, we’re evaluating the results of Finland’s parliamentary election that took place on Sunday, April 19 and looking ahead to the General Election taking place in the United Kingdom May 7.

How many women candidates were elected to the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta)? What does the scene look like for women candidates across the UK with campaign season in full swing and less than 2 weeks to go before Election Day?


On April 19, Finnish voters went to the ballots to choose MPs for 2015-2019. According to a press release from the Eduskunta Riksdagen, voter turnout was 70.1%. It appears that the share of women candidates, while still not reaching 50%, has stabilised at around 40%.

The confirmed election results were published on Tuesday and show that women’s representation dropped by a single MP following the April 19 elections. 83 women MPs have been elected this year, compared with 84 women MPs in the previous Parliament, elected in 2011. Percentage-wise, women MPs now make up 41.5% of the Eduskunta compared to 42%. The EWL is happy to see that many women MPs have been elected. However, it is a pity that the Eduskunta will start its new session with one less woman and that parity has not been achieved. Hopefully the political parties will take the necessary steps in the next election to make sure 100 women go to Parliament.

United Kingdom

In the UK, campaign season is officially open and the election is shaping up to be an exciting one. What about women candidates in the General Election in the UK?

  • Out of 3,973 people standing for Parliament, 1,037 (26.1%) are women—that is the highest percentage of female candidates ever. This is a positive development, but that still does not come close to being representative of the 52% of women who live in the UK.
  • In one seven-way televised debate, 3 out of the 7 panelists were women and the opposition leaders’ debate the majority of participants were women.
  • How are the political parties performing with regards to female candidates? The party with the highest percentage of women candidates is the Green party with 37%. On the other hand, only 13% of the candidates that UKIP is fielding are women.

Women Mobilising!

The Women’s Equality Party was founded last month by Catherine Mayer following the Women of the World Conference. The burgeoning group has been meeting to strategise about how to provide a genuine alternative to what’s currently proposed in the British political system.

EWL’s member Engender Scotland posted an inspiring article today, “A politics by and for women”, examining sexism in the run up to the General Election. The Scottish Women’s Aid (a member of Engender) is running a letter-writing campaign asking candidates: “What are your plans for women and children?”

There are also many grassroots mobilisations happening across Britain, notably the 50:50 Parliament cross-party campaign which has a petition demanding better gender balance in the Parliament. The group UK Feminista has been very active with their #VoteFeminist campaign online and on the streets.

Women are standing up and asking for more #Womeninpolitics! The EWL and its members are continuing to advocate and lobby during the elections to make sure that the UK does better!

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What’s new in the European Commission in regards to parity in decision making?

Posted on 26 June 2015

What's new in the European Commission in regards to parity in decision making?

[Brussels, 29 April 2015] It is now a well-known fact that women represent more than half of the population of the European Union, but they are not represented equally in decision-making at all European levels. This current and lingering under-representation is a serious obstacle to the democratic legitimacy of the EU.

However, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and its members are encouraged by positive developments in the European Commission this year that represent steps in the right direction toward a gender-equal Union.

The European Commission has been increasingly sensitive to the question of equal representation over the years and even declared a strengthened commitment to equality between women and men in A Women’s Charter in 2010. The EWL has demanded, in a Joint Declaration by the 5050 Coalition, that Member States should nominate one male and one female candidate for the college of Commissioners as well as for other top jobs in the EU institutions in order to make measurable progress on such commitments. Despite President Jean-Claude Juncker’s request that member states nominate more women candidates when forming his college of Commissioners last year, the response was disappointing. The current Commission of 28 includes 9 women, proving that achieving parity in the EU executive remains unfinished work.

Yet, President Juncker has not given up and is aiming to increase the number of women during an upcoming reshuffle of the directors-general. “Mr. Juncker has told commissioners to submit three names for their own department in sealed envelopes, at least one of whom should be a woman.” Hopefully this initiative will raise the number of women in these top civil-servant posts from the current 6 out of 35.

Other commissioners are pushing for more equal representation too. The Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources, Kristalina Georgieva, has declared it her mission to increase the number of women in senior positions in the Commission from 27.5% to 40% by the end of her mandate. The EWL welcomes Commissioner Georgieva’s initiative with great enthusiasm and supports her commitment to the promotion of women to senior posts.

Finally, the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT) has taken concrete and positive steps to achieve proper representation of women. In March of this year, DG CONNECT pledged to

(1) always include at least two women speakers at events they organize

(2) no longer accept invitations to speak on all-male panels or all male conferences organized by external stakeholders

(3) try to ensure better representation for women at events outside the EU

The DG also made a list of inspiring women in tech to help conference planners identify and invite more women speakers.

A movement has also been born from frustration with encountering all-male or male-dominated panels at European forums and events. In order for real debate to take place, both women and men need to be present and participating. EU Panel Watch (@EUPanelWatch) calls for an end to all-male panels and puts pressure on event organizers by posting and retweeting photos from EU panels, often accompanied by clever commentary. In June, the EWL will dedicate time to the question of parity on panels and look at how this plays out in civil society and which further steps EU institutions are willing to take to make parity become reality in the EU.

The EWL and its members applaud these positive developments and wish to see more praiseworthy measures and continued progress toward parity in the European Union.

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Update: 50/50 Campaign 2015

Posted on 26 June 2015

Update: 50/50 Campaign 2015

[Brussels, 17 June 2015, co-authored by Adeline Frontier and Jaimie Just]

The Spring Edition of the EWL’s #5050Campaign is drawing to a close…

Over the past four months the EWL’s #5050campaign covered elections and women’s participation in the governments of Finland, the United Kingdom, Poland and Turkey. We’d like to thank the EWL members NYTKIS, NAWO, Engender Scotland, NIWEP, WEN Wales and a member of the EWL’s Turkish coordination KAGIDER, KA.DER, for their much appreciated contributions. While the UK and Turkey saw increased representation for women in the legislative bodies following the elections, Finland lost one woman-held seat and passed from 42% to 41.5% women in the Eduskunta. In the Polish presidential elections only one woman ran for office on May 10, due in part to the requirement for potential candidates to reach a minimum of 100,000 signatures to be officially nominated.

In order for parity to be reached, European countries need to do better, and faster. The rate at which women’s participation in government is increasing is insufficient will not lead to parity democracy within the next 15 years. Action must be taken if real change is to be accomplished.

The EWL urges political parties across Europe and beyond to commit to quotas for electoral lists and implement tools to increase women’s participation in politics such as twinning (parties selecting candidates in constituencies in tandem, one female and one male) and zipping (alternating women and men on party lists) to ensure improved visibility and the placement of women in winnable seats.

Success in Turkey: an increase in women’s representation after June 7 legislative elections

Following the legislative elections on June 7, the new Turkish Parliament includes 96 women representatives, 17.5% of the 550 seats of the Grand National Assembly. We welcome the increase from the previous composition in which women held only 14% of the seats (79 representatives).

Which parties do the newly elected representatives come from? Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative Islamic party, the AKP, sent 41 women to the Grand National Assembly. The opposition party, CHP (Social Democrat), sent 20 women representatives. The nationalist MHP sent 4 women. And the pro-Kurdish HDP sent 31 women. The HDP is the only party that uses a gender quota system when fielding candidates (50% women) and the party is led by a man and a woman.

Nonetheless, Turkey can do better than 17.5% women in the Grand National Assembly considering women constitute 49.8% of the population.

Danish legislative elections June 18

Denmark’s legislative elections were convened on May 27 by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrat Party. They will take place on June 18, 2015. Thorning-Schmidt is a self-declared feminist and has been outperforming her opponent, Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Venestre) in recent polls. She is also the first woman to hold the position of Prime Minister in Denmark.

Women currently make up 38% of the Folketing (Danish Parliament). There are 799 candidates standing in the legislative elections, of which 31% are women. The parties with the highest proportion of women candidates are the Radikale party (Social Liberals), at 40%, and the Conservative People’s party, at 38%. Unfortunately, none of the parties have achieved parity on their lists. However, the Danish Parliament is composed of 179 members, so electing 50% women among the candidates competing for seats is an achievable reality. You can do it Denmark!

Stay tuned for the next 6 months of the #50/50campaign

From now until December, the EWL will be reviewing women’s participation in government in the following countries: Poland, Portugal and Spain. The EWL will continue to share fact sheets to draw attention to the gap between men and women in power and will advocate for greater inclusion of #womeninpolitics. There is much to celebrate looking back at this spring’s elections. However, parity has not been reached.

Inclusivity and accountability in political parties are the foundations of a democratic and just society. Gender parity in all decision-making bodies is one essential element for accountability and therefore women have to be equally represented in decision-making at local, national and international levels.

The #5050campaign is not over yet. We won’t stop until 5050 is achieved!

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Fact sheets: Where are the women in national governments?

Posted on 10 April 2015

Fact sheets: Where are the women in national governments?

[Brussels, 10 April 2015] Parliamentary elections in Finland (April 19) and the United Kingdom (May 7) are coming up fast.

For the Spring 2015 installment of the 50/50 Campaign, the EWL Secretariat and our members are compiling and sharing information on women’s participation in national governments and encouraging discussion of the issue of gender equal representation.

What do you think when you see figures like the ones below ? Let us know! Share! #5050campaign

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Pushing towards parity in European national elections— Vote for #womeninpolitics 2015!

Posted on 26 March 2015

Pushing towards parity in European national elections— Vote for #womeninpolitics 2015!

[Brussels, 26 March 2015]

2015 is an important year for the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and for the women’s rights movement globally. The European Women’s Lobby is celebrating 25 years of action for equality between women in men in all spheres: social, economic, and political. The international community is also celebrating and reflecting on the progress achieved in the 20 years following the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action at the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women recently took place in New York where representatives met to discuss current challenges that affect its implementation.

Women in power and decision-making positions represent one of the strategic objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action. Article 13 of the Declaration states: “Women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace.” In 1995, when the Platform was adopted, the world average of women in national parliaments was 11%. Today, women represent 22.2% of members of the single or lower houses of national parliaments across the globe. This figure is slightly higher in EU countries, with women accounting for 28% of members of the single or lower houses of parliaments. While this is certainly an improvement, women still face discrimination and true parity where women occupy 50% of top decision-making posts is not being accomplished quickly enough.

At the European Union level, the EU will adopt a new strategy on equality between women and men, which should be the framework for action on gender equality for the coming five years. Equality between women and men is a core value of the European Union, enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In this very active and exciting year for the women’s movement, there are opportunities to increase women’s representation in the top echelons of political decision-making by promoting women candidates in national elections across Europe. Over the next few months, the EWL will raise awareness and develop joint actions with members in the following countries: Finland (April 19), the United Kingdom (May 7), Poland (May 10) and Turkey (June 7). We will be sharing information on the current levels of women’s representation in these countries, as well as demanding parity with regards to women’s participation in 2015.

The European Women’s Lobby believes that empowering women to take leadership positions is crucial for sustainable economies and democratic and just societies. The EWL calls upon all political parties to be truly inclusive of women and to aim at achieving parity in elections at all levels. From now, we will be engaging with our members and followers through our website, the EWL newsletter, Facebook and Twitter. We will call upon MEPs to publicly voice their support for parity in their national elections. We will ensure our members’ voices are heard and to inspire people across Europe to demand gender equal representation in governing bodies. We will continue to fight for transformative leadership in the EU and beyond! Will you vote for #womeninpolitics this year?

You can take action now!

For our feminist friends in the United Kingdom, Scottish Women’s Aid, a member of our Scottish member Engender Scotland, has provided useful questions you can tweet or mail to your MPs along with a nifty tool for getting the necessary contact info. Keep an eye out for more information and updates on our Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #5050campaign and #womeninpolitics.

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Follow-up of the 5050 campaign

What is happening with regards to equal representation of women and men in the EU institutions?

Posted on 16 September 2014

Follow-up of the 5050 campaign

[Brussels, 16 September 2014] Here you find some reactions of international newspapers to the new Composition of the European Commission.

These articles mention EWL’s disappointment and report the view of our Fundraising Coordinator and Policy Officer Serap Altinisik on this issue.

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At last, a Commissioner for Gender Equality

Posted on 12 September 2014

At last, a Commissioner for Gender Equality

[Brussels, 12 September 2014] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the appointment of Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers & Gender Equality.

Not only a title

“Gender Equality” has been explicitly acknowledged in Ms Jourová’s title, which we believe to be a strong political statement. It was one of the EWL demands in our Manifesto for the European Parliamentary elections of May and we look very much forward to engage in dialogue with Ms Jourová on about how to ensure women’s rights and make gender equality become a reality in the EU.

In his ’Mission Letter’ to Věra Jourová, future Commission President Juncker mentions (very briefly) what is expected on the gender equality subject.

“Ensuring that, within the scope of EU competences, discrimination is fought and gender equality promoted, including by exploring how to unblock negotiations on the Commission proposal for the Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive.”*

This is very good news for the anti-discrimination directive and the EWL has high expectations of what is further foreseen on the topic of ’promoting gender equality’.

Overrepresentation of men

The European Women’s Lobby stays however dismayed with the fact that the Juncker Commission consists of only 9 women Commissioners out of 28. This is no progress in comparison to the Barroso Commission and clearly not a mirror of European society, of which more than half of the population is female. For the European Women’s Lobby it is a disgrace to democracy that this overrepresentation of men is still acceptable for the European institutions and the EU Member States.

We urge all European Commissioners-designate to prioritise gender equality in their own portfolios. Evidently for the European Women’s Lobby, a position for a Commissioner-designate known for sexist statements is simply unacceptable.

We expect the European Parliament to still carefully consider during the hearings whether the equal representation of women and men is met with the current proposal of the College of the EC.

Follow Commissioner-designate Jourová on Twitter [>]

*Mission Letter Věra Jourová

Team Juncker Compostion

EWL earlier articles

Women hold up half the sky

The potentional new European Commission, no thank you

Picture copyright European Commission

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Women hold up half the sky: No gender mirroring in Team Juncker

Status quo with Barroso after toe-curling process

Posted on 5 September 2014

Women hold up half the sky: No gender mirroring in Team Juncker

[Brussels, 5 September 2014] Today future European Commission (EC) President Juncker published the full list of commissioner-candidates.

While the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the fact that during the past weeks the number of proposed female Commissioners by the Member States increased from a shameful 4 to 9, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union still believes that a stagnation in the numbers of women Commissioner is unacceptable for women across the EU. At this snail’s pace, European women will have to wait another half of a century and won’t even live to see parity.

Even the “Ten Or More” mark is not reached, as some former Commissioners, such as Neelie Kroes, asked for. The composition of the EC is clearly not a mirror of European society, of which more than half of the population is female and much more diverse than the current proposed Commissioners.

Moreover, there are still (too) many member states which have never appointed a woman as a Commissioner, namely Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia. We call on these members states to fully implement the core values of the EU, namely to ensure gender equality. Therefore, we demand that these states get rid of their blind spot when it comes to women politicians and to appoint them to decision-making positions at EU level.

Furthermore, The EWL, urgently calls on the future president to appoint a European Commissioner for women’s rights and gender equality to show that the EC has landed in the 21st century.

We call on the European Parliament, directly elected by the citizens of Europe, to carefully consider whether the equal representation of women and men is met with the current proposal of the College of the EC.

Women hold up half of the sky but the clouds continue to cover the horizon.

Last week we said #notmyEU, now we say #notenough.

The women of team Juncker.

  • Italy – Federica Mogherini –
  • Poland - Elżbieta Bieńkowska
  • Slovenia - Alenka Bratušek,
  • Sweden - Cecilia Malmström
  • Bulgaria – Kristalina Georgieva
  • Denmark – Margrethe Vetager
  • Czech Republic- Věra Jourová
  • Romania - Corina Creţu
  • Belgium – Marianne Thyssen
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The potential new European Commission: back to the future?

No thank you! Not my EU.

Posted on 28 August 2014

The potential new European Commission: back to the future?

[Brussels, 28 August 2014] The composition of the new European Commission is going to be confirmed at the meeting of the EU Heads of States this weekend. Almost all Member States have however already proposed their candidates for Commisioner and at the moment only 4 women have been designated out of 28. This means that not even 15% of the Commission would be women, less than half as many as in the outgoing Commission Barroso.

For the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) the question arises: is this the Europan Union we want?

The EWL, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), is simply outraged. This is a clear disgrace to democracy and equality between women and men; ideals that form the core values of the EU. Women’s rights organisations across Europe cannot accept that the future Commission is not representing the diversity of the European society, by obviously ignoring 50% of the population. The EWL and its members say loud and clear: “No thank you! This is not our European Union”.

We demand from European governments, in particular Member States which have never appointed a woman as a Commissioner*, to fulfil their obligation with regards to the EU’s core values and to contribute to a gender equal Commission.

We call on the future president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker to ensure that the final composition of the Commission will represent what European citizens, both women and men ask for: a democratic, gender equal and sustainable European voice.

We also call on the future president to express his genuine political will to achieve equality between women and men in Europe and appoint a European Commissioner for women’s rights and gender equality. This is an essential step to guarantee more visibility to the active role of women and their right to be equal to men within a society based on democracy, social justice, human rights and dignity. Moreover, as there is room to appoint a Commissioner responsible for fish, why not appoint one for women’s rights?

Join our social media campaign and share your outrage with your governements and your followers using the hashtags #notmyEU, #5050campaign, #TenOrMore

Click to find more on the EWL’s 5050 campaign and Manifesto for the European Parliament elections.

To read our earlier letter to future president Juncker click here

*Member States that have never put forward a woman for the position of European Commissioner

  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
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