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25 Μαρτίου 2019
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Women take centrestage at EP
  07 Μαρτίου 2019, 12:50 μμ  

The European Parliament is organising a series of events on the occasion of this year's International Women's Day highlighting the importance of women’s participation in politics, in view particularly of the EU elections in May.

Despite the strides that have been made, women still only make up 36% of members of the European Parliament. Watch the video to see how far things have come and how far they still have to go.

Before direct elections to the European Parliament, when members were delegates from national parliaments, female representation was marginal. Only 31 women were members from 1952 until the first elections in 1979.
 
After 1979 the number of female MEPs started increasing and noted feminist Simone Veil  was chosen as the first president of the directly-elected European Parliament.

“Women’s power in politics is at the heart of women's rights because it defines women's capacity to participate and decide on the collective governing of our societies. We need to keep on fighting,” said Lithuanian S&D member Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, the chair of Parliament's gender equality committee.

In a report adopted in January 2019, Parliament again underlined the importance of increasing the presence of the under-represented gender, often women, on electoral lists, and strongly encouraged the European political parties and their party members to ensure a gender-balanced representation of candidates for elections to the Parliament in 2019.


During the current term, Parliament has called for measures to prevent and combat sexual harassment in political life, criticised the current backlash against women's rights and gender equality, targeted, among others, the presence of women in decision-making positions, and called for a strong gender equality focus in the next parliamentary term.
 
In 2012, MEPs welcomed gender quotas introduced in some EU countries and urged others to consider legislating to achieve a gender balance in political decision-making.

The year before that, the European Parliament adopted a resolution saying that women's inclusion in decision-making strengthens democracy and that it is a necessary condition for women's interests and concerns to be taken into account.

Today, March 7, Parliament’s gender equality committee is organising an inter-parliamentary committee meeting, which will focus on young women in politics as well as women's real power in politics and how to boost it.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, chair of Parliament’s gender equality committee, and Věra Jourová, the European commissioner for gender equality, will both be attending. Other speakers will include Parliament Vice-President Dimitrios Papadimoulis, chair of the high-level group on gender equality and diversity; and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović; Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief.
 
Live chats on social media

Also today,  Angelika Mlinar, an Austrian member of the ALDE group, will be answering questions about the Parliament resolution she wrote on gender mainstreaming in the European Parliament on Facebook and Instagram on at 16.00 CET (17.00 local time).
 
The importance of young women's involvement in politics will be discussed with #thistimeiamvoting volunteers on Facebook and Instagram on  March 8at 17.00 CET (18.00 local time). These volunteers have been very active in raising awareness of the upcoming European elections in May.

Earlier this week, Parliament organised a seminar for journalists with a particular focus on the upcoming European elections. The panels included discussions on:

  • How imbalanced (still) is the gender balance in politics?
  • What is still needed to break the glass ceiling in politics once and for all? Will the new generation trigger the change?
  • European elections: what will women vote for?
  • European elections: what do the political groups offer to women on gender balance and empowerment?
  Edited by Bouli Hadjioannou