PES Women: equal representation of women in decision-making is crucial for strong European democracies

PES Women: equal representation of women in decision-making is crucial for strong European democracies

This topic will be centre stage tomorrow when PES Women and ASF, the SPD’s women’s organisation, host ‘#MakeHerCount for Democracy’, a hybrid event taking place in Berlin and being streamed online.

A century after most women in Europe won the right to vote, women are still under-represented in governments, legislative bodies and other democratic institutions as well as in economic decision-making. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, women make up only around 30% of government ministers, members of parliament and regional assemblies. For women of colour or minority backgrounds, the share of power is even smaller.

PES Women members agreed that inclusive, intersectional and equal representation of women at all levels of governance is essential to make sure women’s voices, experiences and contributions are truly counted. To this end, Statutory members exchanged on best practices for equal representation from their own social democratic parties. Next to already well-established tools to foster equal representation in party structures & electoral processes, members also presented some new initiatives, such as the German SPD’s success with pushing for national legislation on quotas for women on company boards in the face of conservative opposition, the Irish Labour Party’s initiative “Sign up a Sister”, and the Danish social democratic party’s decision to have gender equal candidate lists in some major municipalities for the upcoming local elections in November.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“Making women’s voices heard is a matter of justice. The best way to deliver good policies is to take the whole population into account. To create a Union of Equality and an inclusive future for Europe, we need more than token inclusion. We must make sure that women are given real power over meaningful portfolios, that women with varied experiences can enter politics without fear of harassment and violence. Once in power, they must be encouraged to push for feminist policies that raise up other women. PES Women has repeatedly called for gender equality in Commission portfolios, a gender-sensitive Conference for the Future of Europe, and a dedicated Council configuration for anti-discrimination, diversity and gender equality, and has long highlighted the benefits of policies like 50/50 rules and “zip-lists” for elections.

“Women’s rights and gender equality as a concept are currently threatened by a far-right backlash across Europe, which goes hand in hand with reactionary, conservative governments’ violations of the rule of law and good democratic practice. Social democratic governments and parties are among the strongest in Europe when it comes to fighting this backlash and promoting gender equality in decision-making. At the EU level, we are proud to have a progressive, feminist Commissioner like Helena Dalli spearheading such initiatives under the EU Gender Equality Strategy.”

To find out more about the upcoming debate #MakeHerCount for Democracy and the overall event With Courage. For Europe hosted by the PES & SPD from 25-26 June, please visit the event page.