Written by Rosamund Shreeves with Nessa Boland,

© pressmaster / Adobe Stock

One hundred years after women won the vote or were first elected to parliament in some EU countries, the data show that women continue to be under-represented in politics and public life, in the European Parliament, national parliaments and governments, and local assemblies.

The arguments for gender balance in politics are numerous, and benefit not only women and female politicians, but also parties themselves and the rest of society. After all, women form half the population and need to be better represented in power structures. However, there is now solid evidence both of obstacles and of the strategies that are effective when it comes to increasing women’s participation and representation. Here, political parties and the media can be both barriers and important enablers. The EU has committed to achieving a gender balance in political representation and participation as a matter of justice, equality and democracy. Concrete recommendations have been made for achieving this goal, including specific action that could be taken by the EU institutions, national governments, political parties, civil society and the media.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the issue of women’s leadership and its implications for gender equality.

This is an update of a Briefing from March 2019, drafted by Rosamund Shreeves and Martina Prpic.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Women in politics in the EU: State of play‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


Women in the European Parliament by Member State

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