During today's meeting of the Party of European Socialists (PES) Group in the European Committee of the Regions, progressive local and regional leaders had an exchange with European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli on the need to make gender equality a priority throughout all levels of governance and for a gender perspective to be integrated into decision-making processes and measures taken in response to the pandemic as part of the economic and social recovery.
Considering women only account for 15% of mayors, 21% of regional presidents, 35% of members of regional parliaments and 23% of members of the Committee of the Regions, there is a clear gender gap at regional and local level in women's representation that needs to be addressed.
Moreover, the pandemic has had a clear gendered impact on the labour market: women tend to hold the majority of part-time and precarious jobs and have come under greater pressure for family care and domestic chores. Women are disproportionately affected and therefore recovery measures must be gender-sensitive.
"Women deserve equal representation in public debates so that their concerns are voiced and addressed and their points of view aired on an equal footing. Additionally, we need to speed up progress towards equal female representation in leadership positions all across the EU. We need a concerted effort in this regard as currently women continue to struggle against long-held and systemic entry barriers. We need to set standards such as through the adoption of the proposed Gender Balance on Company Boards Directive to reorganise how gendered representation happens in our societies", said Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality.
Concha Andreu, President of La Rioja region (Spain), Vice-President of the PES Group and rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions on the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, considers it essential that the EU Gender Equality Strategy involves local and regional authorities in its governance. She replied: "The Strategy does not take into account the fact that many of us have responsibilities on Gender Equality, striving to make it a reality in our regions and cities. This is why these authorities should be fully involved in the governance of the Strategy. At the same time, being myself the first female president of La Rioja, I believe that we need initiatives to empower women to stand for local and regional elections. This is all the more relevant considering the COVID-19 crisis and the need for female leadership in preparing a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable recovery. We simply cannot build a new future without women's involvement in decision-making".
Note to the editors:
- The PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions is a political group that brings together more than 180 social democratic and progressive locally and regionally elected politicians from across the European Union. As the second biggest group, it represents all progressive cities and regions within the EU body.
- The opinion by rapporteur Concha Andreu on the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 will be adopted during the plenary of the European Committee of the Regions on 14 October 2020. Its draft is available here. The data on women's representation in politics above is included in the opinion and refers to June 2020.
- The PES Group adopted in 2018 a Code of Conduct for Gender Parity applying to all its works. It is the only political group in the Committee of the Regions but also the European Parliament to have such a Code of Conduct. The Code brought clear results in terms of gender parity within the key posts of the institution and the Group. The document is available here.