Where are the Women in EU Politics?

Question: What role do women play in EU politics?

Margot Wallström: Well actually we managed to increase the women representation in the parliament. So it went up with 4%. So at least that was a positive sign. But, you know, women make up 52% of the population of Europe, but they are only represented to 30% as members of the European parliament. That is too low! And even if it went up to 34% this is still so bad.

That’s why you often can see it in these so-called family photos from the Summit Meetings and saw black suits and ties. Sometimes of course you see Angela Merkel or Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, but it is really something that I don’t think will make women very motivated or interested. Maybe anger which could be a good thing if they mobilize that sort of anger to say, “Well we really have to get into politics or we have to change this situation.” It means also that the issues that women care for and the problems that women have including pure discrimination when it comes to the big wage gap still existing, or violence against women, or a number of other issues—they are not addressed properly. So we cannot trust that the majority of men will put this on the agenda. So I think it is so important to change. I was engaged in a debate called 50/50 Democracy EU, which was a way to help to mobilize interests in changing women’s representation.

Recorded on: July 10, 2009

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