Plans for more gender balance in the next European Parliament

The European Parliament Women’s Rights Committee has discussed a number of measures to increase the proportion of women MEPs in the 2004 European elections.

Several measures were proposed at the European Parliament's public hearing on gender equality in the 2004 European elections:

  • a quota system: no less than 40 per cent of one sex and no more than 60 per cent of the other;
  • information campaigns carried out by the EU, together with public debates and clear messages via the media;
  • political parties to ensure women were included on their electoral lists.

Several speakers pointed out that the EU was often perceived as male-dominated. Before 1994, less than 20 per cent of members of the European Parliament were women, while at present, 31 per cent of the 626 MEPs are women.

MEP Ana Karamanou (Greek Socialist), who chairs the Women's Rights Committee, said this balance must be "safeguarded at all costs". She warned that barely 14 per cent of the parliamentary observers sent to the European Parliament by the 10 future Member States were women. She called for efforts to be stepped up so that the proportion of women in Parliament did not decline following the 2004 elections.

 

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