[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, the year 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 its 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 its 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.