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Europe’s first women

Before direct elections to the European Parliament, when members were delegates of their national parliaments, female representation was marginal. Only 31 women were members from 1952 until the first elections in 1979 (see list).

Europe's first women

Europe’s first women

The number of women may have been small, but they were powerful. Some chaired committees (Chairs and Vice-Chairs) like the Committee on Agriculture or Social Affairs, some were Vice-Chairs of a political group. They drafted reports, motions for resolutions, and participated actively in the debates.If in 1978 only 11 out of 198 Members were women, in July 1979 the number increased dramatically, resulting in 68 female MEPs from a total of 410 seats.

Donne votiamo per l'Europa

© European Union

But who were these women pioneers, first female members of the Assembly of the three communities before direct elections began? The first female members from Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg (Europe of Six) to join the Assembly were:

  • Netherlands – Klompé, Marga A.M. (26 August 1952 – 17 October 1956)
  • Germany – Probst, Maria (27 February 1958 – 21 December 1965) and  Strobel, Käte (27 February 1958 – 21 January 1967)
  • France – Thome-Patenôtre, Jacqueline (13 March 1958 – 22 January 1959)
  • Belgium – De Riemaecker-Legot, Marguerite (13 March 1958 – 27 April 1961)
  • Italy – Gennai  Tonietti, Erisia (15 February 1961 – 21 January 1969)
  • Luxembourg – Lulling, Astrid (20 October 1965 – 4 July 1974)

Interested in more information or publications on this topic? Contact us at arch-info@ep.europa.eu.

NETHERLANDS

KLOMPÉ, Marga A.M. (26 August 1952 – 17 October 1956)

KLOMPÉ was the first woman to join the 78 male Members of the ECSC Assembly constituted in 1952. She belonged to the Christian-Democrat Group and was a member of the following committees:

  • KLOMPÉ, Marga A.M.

    © European Union / EP

    Committee on Social Affairs (Commission des affaires sociales)

  • Committee on Political Affairs and External Relations (Commission des affaires politiques et des relations exterieures de la Communauté)

In 1955 the Assembly decided to create a working group on the competences and powers of the Assembly and on institutional questions, of which KLOMPÉ was also a member.

She was appointed rapporteur for 8 reports, most of them on the Community’s international relations. An important file is the Assembly’s opinion on the Messina Declaration, which laid down the foundations for the Treaties of Rome, the Report on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Community External Relations on the resolution adopted by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Member States of the ECSC, assembled in Messina on 1 and 2 June 1955 (AC-0043/55-mai).

KLOMPÉ gave up her mandate in October 1956 to become the Netherland’s first ever female Minister.

GERMANY

Maria PROBST and Käte STROBEL were the first women to represent Germany. Both of them joined the ECSC Assembly in February 1958.

PROBST, Maria (27 February 1958 – 21 December 1965)

Member of the EP until 21 December 1965 and duringher entire mandate was affiliated to the Christian-Democrat Group.

PROBST, Maria

© European Union / EP

She was a member of the following Committees:

  • Committee on Social Affairs (Commissions des affaires sociales)
  • Committee on Political and Institutional Affairs (Commission des affaires politiques et des questions institutionnelles) which changed its name in 1961 to Committee on Political Affairs and Institutional Questions (Commission des affaires politiques et des questions institutionnelles)
  • Committee on Legal questions, Regulations and Immunity (Commission des questions juridiques, du règlement et des immunités), which changed its name in 1961 to Committee on Legal Affairs (Commission juridique).
  • Working group on the European elections (Groupe de travail pour les élections européennes).

She was appointed rapporteur for one report: the Report on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee regarding the external relations of the European Atomic Energy Community (A0-0124/63) (Rapport fait au nom de la commission politique sur les relations extérieures de la Communauté européenne de l’énergie atomique), adopted on 23 January 1964.

She was the first woman to occupy the office of Vice-President in the Bundestag.

STROBEL, Käte (27 February 1958 – 21 January 1967)

STROBEL, Käte

© European Union / EP

STROBEL’s mandate of 7 years, to 21 January 1967, ended when she resigned after being nominated Minister for Health at the Bundestag. Member and Chair of the Socialist Group (1964-1967), she was also member of several committees:

  • Committee on Commercial Policy and Economic cooperation with third countries (Commission de la politique commerciale et de la coopération économique avec les pays tiers),
  • Member and Vice Chair until 1964 of the Committee on Agriculture (Commission de l’agriculture),
  • Committee on Political Affairs (Commission politique) (from November 1963)
  • Member of the Joint Parliamentary Conference (Conférence parlementaire de l’association) (from November 1964).

Appointed rapporteur for 6 reports mainly on agricultural issues, for instance the Report on behalf of the Committee on Agriculture regarding the European Commission’s attributions towards the implementation of a common agricultural policy (A0-0119/61) (Rapport fait au nom de la commission de l’agriculture sur les attributions de la Commission européenne dans la mise en oeuvre de la politique agricole commune).

FRANCE

THOME-PATENÔTRE, Jacqueline (13 March 1958 – 22 January 1959)

THOME-PATENOTRE, Jacqueline

© Sénat/DR

Even if her first mandate was brief, Jacqueline THOME-PATENÔTRE was Vice-Chair of Liberals and Allies Group (Groupe des libéraux et apparentes) and of the Committee on Safety, Work Hygiene and Health protection (Commission de la securité, de l’hygiène du travail et de la protection sanitaire). She was also a member of the Committee on Social Affairs.

THOME-PATENOTRE, Jacqueline

© European Union / EP

In June 1984 THOME-PATENÔTRE was elected for a second parliamentary term (1984-1989) and joined the European Democratic Alliance group.

She was Member and Vice-Chair (1984 – 1987) of the Committee on External Economic Relations and a substitute on the Committee on Youth, Culture, Education, Information and Sport.

Additionally, THOME-PATENÔTRE was a member of the Delegation to the EEC-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee which in 1987 changed its name to Delegation for Relations with Turkey.

During her second parliamentary term she was appointed rapporteur for the Report on anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures and associated foreign trade issues (A2-0073/86), adopted on 6 October 1986. The report deals with the problem of increasing dumping of products by third country producers on the Community market.

BELGIUM

DE RIEMAECKER-LEGOT, Marguerite (13 March 1958 – 27 April 1961)

Marguerite DE RIEMAECKER-LEGOT was the first woman to represent Belgium in the Assembly. She was a member of the Liberal and Democratic Group. In April 1961 she resigned after having been nominated Secretary of the Belgian House of Representatives (la Chambre des Représentants de Belgique).

DE RIEMAECKER-LEGOT, Marguerite

© European Union / EP

DE RIEMAECKER-LEGOT was a member of the following committees:

  • Committee on Social Affairs (Commission des affaires sociales)
  • Committee on Administration of the European Parliamentary Assembly and Community Budget (Commission de l’administration de l’Assemblée Parlementaire Européenne et du budget des Communautés).

 She was appointed rapporteur for 2 reports:

  • Report following the consultation requested by the European Parliamentary Assembly by the Council of the European Economic Community regarding the regulatory measures necessary in order to carry out Articles 124 to 126 inclusive of the Treaty, concerning the European Social Funds (A0-0081/59) (Rapport faisant suite à la consultation demandée à l’Assemblée parlementaire européenne, conformément à l’article 127 du traité instituant la C.E.E., par le Conseil de la Communauté économique européenne sur les dispositions réglementaire nécessaires à l’exécution des articles 124 à 126 inclus du traité, concernant le Fonds social européen) adopted on 14 January 1960. The report underlines the importance of this Fund in developing the Community’s social policy.
  • Interim report regarding the consultation requested from the European Parliamentary Assembly concerning the project of Staff Regulations of the E.E.C. and of Euratom (A0-0093/60), (Rapport intérimaire fait au nom de la commission de l’administration de l’Assemblée parlementaire européenne et du budget des Communautés ayant pour object la consultation demandée à l’Assemblée parlementaire européenne sur le projet de la statut des fonctionnaires de la C.E.E. et de l’Euratom) adopted on 24 November 1960. With this report, the Assembly reiterated its demand to the Council with regard to the necessity for a Staff Regulation.

ITALY

GENNAI TONIETTI, Erisia (15 Febraury 1961 – 21 January 1969)

GENNAI TONIETTI was the first Italian woman in the ECSC Assembly, and was affiliated to the Christian-Democrat Group.

GENNAI TONIETTI, Erisia

© European Union / EP

During her mandate GENNAI TONIETTI was a member of the following committees:

  • Committee on Health Protection (Commission de la protection sanitaire)
  • Committee on Social Affairs and Public Health (Commission des affaires sociales et de la santé publique)
  • Committee on Energy, which in 1967 became the Committee on Energy, Research and Nuclear Matters (Commission de l’énergie, de la recherche et des problèmes atomiques)
  • Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (Commission économique et financière)
  • Committee on External Economic Relations (Commission des relations économiques extérieures).

From 1967, she became a member of the Parliamentary Conference, an association between the European Economic Community and African States (C.E.E. – E.A.M.A.), predecessor of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

She was appointed rapporteur “pour avis” for 3 reports: 

  • Report on the recommendation of the CECA proposing a community definition of invalidity giving rise to social security payments (A0-0152/67) (Rapport sur le projet de recommandation de la Commission (doc. 122/65-I) de la Communauté économique européenne relative à une définition communautaire de l’état d’invalidité donnant droit à des prestations), adopted on 25 January 1968.
  • Report on the Commission of the EEC to the Council proposal (doc. 37) for a directive on the freedom to carry out non-remunerated research (exploration and drilling) in the petrol and natural gas areas (class 13 13 CITI) (A0-0119/67) (Rapport sur la proposition de la Commission de la C.E.E. au Conseil (doc. 37) relative à une directive concernant la réalisation de la libre prestation des services pour les activités non salariées dans le domaine de la recherche (prospection et forage) de pétrole et de gaz naturel), adopted on 16 October 1967.
  • Seventh Annual Report on the activities of the AEEC (A0-0063/64) (Septième rapport général sur l’activité de la CEEA), adopted on 23 September 1964

LUXEMBOURG

LULLING, Astrid (20 October 1965 – 4 July 1974)

LULLING Astrid

© European Union / EP

Astrid LULLING was the first Luxembourgish woman to join the Assembly. She is one of the best-known figures among the MEPs from Luxembourg, as having been re-elected in 1989, she remains an active presence in the European Parliament today.

During her first mandate she was a member of the Socialist Group and participated in the following committees:

  • Committee on Economic Affairs (Commission économique)
  • Committee on Social Affairs and Public Health (Commission des affaires sociales et de la santé publique), where she was Vice Chair from 1968. This committee changed its name in 1973 to Committee on Social Affairs and employment (Commission des affaires sociales et du travail).
  • Committee on Agriculture (Commission de l’agriculture).

LULLING was rapporteur for around 20 reports mostly on social and health matters such as:

  • Report on the EEC Commission recommendation to the Member States concerning measures to protect expectant mothers (A0-0069/66) (Report sur le projet de recommandation de la Commission de la Communauté économique européenne aux États membres concernant la protection de la maternité (doc. 122-11, 1965-1966), adopted on 27 July 1966. Among the recommendations we can observe the right to protection against dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy, social security benefits extended to unemployed women and aspects related to health and safety protection.
  • Report on the state of application at 31 December 1968 of the principal regarding equal pay between female and male workers (A0-0021/71) (Report sur l’état d’application au 31 décembre 1968 du principe de  l’égalité des rémunérations entre les travailleurs  masculins et féminins), adopted on 20 April 1971,
  • Report on the CEEC proposal (doc. 122/67-I) to the Council regarding rules on the community organisation of the raw tobacco industry (A0-0047/69) (Report sur la proposition de la Commission de la C.E.E.  au Conseil (doc. 122/67-I) relative à un règlement portant établissement d’une organisation commune  des marchés dans le secteur du tabac brut), adopted on 3 July 1969.

For information on LULLING’s current parliamentary activities at the European Parliament (1989 – 2014) see :

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/1186/ASTRID_LULLING_home.html

About Historical Archives

The Historical Archives maintain and make available to the public the documents related to the legislative and political activity of the European Parliament from 1952 until the 6th parliamentary term (2004-2009).

Discussion

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