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Gender equality: smile, 69% of European parliament and 63% of EU commissioners are men

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After the European elections in June 2009, Europe will be posing for a new family portrait. Will just as many women as men be in the snapshot? To raise awareness, the ‘50/50 campaign for democracy’ is brought to you by the European women’s lobby

69% of the members of the European parliament and 63% of the commissioners are men Women are under-represented in the EU decision-making bodies. This is a serious obstacle to the democratic legitimacy of the EU. The unequal gender representation undermines all attempts to promote a more inclusive and participatory democracy. All Europeans- both women and men - must be represented in the making of decisions that affect their lives. This is where the European women’s lobby (EWL) bring you the 50/50 campaign for democracy.

Who can change this?

Voters, national political parties, European governments and high level European decision-makers need to act to achieve a more gender balanced family picture of Europe in 2009. Why political parties? They have the power to make decisions about who is on electoral lists. Why governments? They choose who is appointed to the European commission and other high level EU positions. Yes, there is a general agreement on women’s right to equal participation in political life. But, this must become women’s equal representation in European decision-making bodies. Political parties plus governments must commit to turn this tide.

Want to act? Cue the ‘50/50 campaign for democracy’

50/50 campaignMobilisation will put issues of gender equality, solidarity and sustainable and social development higher on the European agenda. A ‘gender audit’ will assess the political parties’ commitment to gender equality in terms of women’s presence on the candidate lists and of the content of political programmes.

Who backs the campaign?

So far, over 200 personalities from all across Europe support the campaign. This includes the president and vice president of the European commission José Manuel Barroso and Margot Wallström, Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk, Slovenian president Danilo Türk, Belgium prime minister Herman Van Rompuy, Ireland’s president Mary Robinson and the former president of the European parliament, Simone Veil.

Recap: who are the European women's lobby?

The EWL is the largest non-governmental women’s organisation in the European Union. It represents over 2000 direct member organisations in 30 European countries. It works with its members at national and European level. It’s main objective is to fight for equality between women and men, ensuring the integration of a gender equality perspective in all EU policies.