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European Union: European Parliament Adopts Resolution Endorsing Women’s Preferential Treatment in Elections and High Public Offices

(Mar. 27, 2012) On March 13, 2012, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on Women in Political Decision-Making – Quality and Equality (Resolution (Mar. 13, 2012), European Parliament website.)

As the EP explains, the impetus behind the adoption of this resolution, is the general lack of parity for women in many facets of political and public life. The EP noted the underrepresentation in elected and nominated political positions at the European Union (EU) level and in its Member States; the unequal participation of men and women in political and public decision-making; and the under-representation of women in mid-term elections in the European Parliament, where woman have reached 35% but have not achieved parity. The EP also noted that only one-third of the members of the European Commission are women and that the Commission has never been presided over by a woman. Women represent only 24% of legislators in the parliaments of EU Members, while men make up the remaining 76%. (Id.)

The EP invited the Commission, the Council, and the EU Members to formulate and implement gender equality policies, especially in the fields of micro-economic finance, labor, trade, defense and foreign affairs. The policies should ensure the attainment of specific objectives and establish mechanisms to monitor their implementation. (Id.)

The EP also called on political parties in the EU Members to adopt a quota system for candidate lists for party organs and elections, when such a method is compatible with the electoral system of a Member State. It urged the EU Members to take concrete steps to ensure parity in national parliaments and called on national governments to nominate women and men in high-ranking positions at the EU level. (Id.)

The EP also called on EU Members to take affirmative action measures, including legislative measures, to ensure parity of women in public offices, and it urged the Commission and the EU Members to fund women's organizations and to facilitate women's networks. (Id.)

Finally, the EP urged the Commission and the EU Members to provide adequate financial and technical assistance for programs designed to improve the status of women through their improved rate of participation in public decision-making. (Id.)