European Women's Lobby - EWL
The European Parliament has now elected a new president and 14 vice-presidents to lead the institution for the next two and a half years. The Parliament will once again be chaired by a man. The number of women among its vice-presidents has dropped down to 21% (only three out of 14).......
The backlash against gender parity within the European Parliament means that it is necessary to reopen the debate on binding measures for gender balance within European institutions.
In 2009, European voters sent a clear message in support of parity democracy: the number of women MEPs increased by five percentage points, to 35%. Two and half years later, the unwillingness of the political groups of the Parliament to do their share, by ensuring the election of women in internal leadership posts, means that this message has not been heard.
Last week, the MEPs elected a new president and 14 vice-presidents to lead the institution for the next two and a half years. The Parliament will once again be chaired by a man. The number of women among its vice-presidents has dropped down to 21% (only three out of 14), undermining the progress made in recent years (43% in the first part of the current term).
The reshuffle did not improve the poor gender balance among the presidents of political groups. The S&D group nominated a new president - again a man. This means that the Conference of Presidents continue to be an almost exclusively male club, attended by only one woman.
This week, parliamentary committees convened in Brussels to elect chairpersons and their deputies until the end of the legislature. Out of the 22 committees and subcommittees of the Parliament, eight will be chaired by women. The committees responsible for foreign affairs, fisheries, and environment, environment and public health are fully dominated by men.
The backlash against parity democracy in the Parliament is worrying, as the EU decision-making bodies need democracy and transparency more than ever. Citizensí trust in the capacity of these institutions to listen to their voices is fading, and economic and social challenges will not be solved to the benefit of all women and men if decision-making bodies are not representative of their concerns.
The European elections in 2014 are the next opportunity for our political leaders to get the gender balance right. For this to happen, political parties must ensure that women and men are equally placed in national electoral lists. The political groups of the Parliament must, in their turn, commit themselves to putting up both women and men as candidates for internal leadership posts. Finally, the debate on binding measures for gender balance within European institutions needs to be reopened, now!