Petition: 250 million women in the EU. Not a single one good enough?

// 5 June 2008

We’ve just been observing Hilary Clinton make a play to become president of the US, and get further than any other woman has before. Setting aside whether she was the right candidate or not, the promise and possibility was dangled seductively in front of us that one of the top jobs in the world could be filled by a woman.

Well, it’s not the only big, influential job out there. Here in Europe, over the next 12 months, four politicians will be appointed to the most powerful jobs in the EU – member states will select the EU president, foreign minister, commission president and parliament president. So, with four posts open, will any of them be filled by women? Or will it be another round of white, middle-aged men?

Christel Schaldemose – a Danish Member of the European Parliament – has set up a (horribly-named “females in front”) petition, hoping to gather up enough support to pressure the member states into selecting at least one woman.

The petition says:

During the coming 12 months, four politicians will be appointed as leaders of the European Union. For fifty years now, the picture of European political leadership has remained the same. It is time for a change. International top posts should always go to the most competent candidate. There are 250 million women in Europe; it should not be too hard to find qualified candidates among all these.


“In all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities and to promote equality, between men and women” says the Lisbon Treaty. The Treaty of Lisbon introduces the principle of participatory democracy with a “citizen’s initiative” which requires the signatures from a minimum of 1 million EU citizens from a significant number of Member States. With 1 million signatures, we can ask the Commission to take action to secure that the Union fulfils the Treaty’s goal of gender equality, starting with the upcoming nominations.

In EUObserver we learn:

Past form is not that encouraging. There have been no women commission presidents in the institution’s 50-year history – although this commission claims the highest number of females, with nine of the 27 commissioners being women. Just two of parliament’s presidents have been women.

The bias is also apparent at national level. Of the 27 member states, just one has a woman prime minister – Germany – while 75 percent of senior ministers in the European Union are men and 25 percent women.

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