Brussels 16th September: Launch of the EWL 50/50 Campaign

“No modern European democracy without gender equality” was the message of the high level personalities who gathered in Brussels on 16 September 2008 to launch the European Women’s Lobby’s (EWL) “50/50 Campaign for Democracy”. The Campaign aims to increase the presence of women at the highest level of European politics and to encourage women to cast their votes in the next European elections, and is personally endorsed by European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström. A website is dedicated to the cause, and the launch will be followed by activities throughout Europe.

“A representative democracy without gender equality is a contradiction in terms. Women and men need to be equally represented in European politics, in order to have a say on decisions that affect their lives. It is a question of listening and attending to the needs of all persons living in Europe; it is a question of democracy”, said Commissioner Wallström.

While many commitments have been made in relation to democracy and gender equality, the figures offer a bleak picture, with 70% of the members of the European Parliament and 67% of the Commissioners being men. The “50/50 Campaign for Democracy” urges voters, civil society organizations, trade unions, national political parties, European governments and EU decision-makers to act in order to achieve a more gender balanced family picture of Europe in 2009. The Campaign is already supported by a number of well known personalities from across Europe, such as Prime minister of Belgium Yves Leterme, Danilo Turk, President of the Slovenian Republic, Mary Robinson former Irish President, Nobel Price winner Orhan Pamuk, and the former President of the European parliament Simone Veil. All interested persons and organisations are invited to join the efforts through the Campaign website

“The EU has the power to improve the lives of millions of people, but this requires the active involvement of all women and men with politics at European level. We invite people to get involved in the decision-making process, and to speak up for more gender equality, justice and democracy. We want to mobilise voters to vote for women and for parties that put equality between women and men at the heart of their agendas”, said Kirsti Kolthoff, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

The launch of the Campaign on 16.09.2008 in Brussels will be followed by activities directed towards decision-makers and political parties at national level, urging them to pay attention to the equal representation of women and men when lists for the European elections are drawn up; and new Commissioners are proposed. In the long term the Campaign seeks to introduce binding measures to ensure that all European and national decision-making bodies are equally composed of both sexes.

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