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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

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.

© 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:

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:

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.

© European Union / EP

She was a member of the following Committees:

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)

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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:

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)

© 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.

© 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).

© European Union / EP

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

 She was appointed rapporteur for 2 reports:

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.

© European Union / EP

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

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: 

LUXEMBOURG

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

© 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:

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

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

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