The European elections are just a few days away. Citizens from all across Europe will elect their new representatives in the European Parliament. When they vote, we ask them to how they can improve the lives of 50% of the European population by supporting the representation of women in politics.
Working for the European Women’s Lobby – the biggest umbrella organisation of women’s NGOs in Europe – I hear from our members, activists on the national and european level, stories about their fight to ensure that all women, in their nuanced and complex diversity, have the same opportunities and rights as men. Progress for women has now been stalling for a decade in the EU. As a young woman, I am frustated, disappointed and saddened to see that our rights have been threatened and undermined in all countries.
We believe in the potential of the European project to ensure protection and respect for women. We need a feminist Europe, a Europe where women will not be treated as second-class citizens, a Europe that works to ensure all human rights are respected and upheld, a Europe that leaves no one behind. As Audrey Lorde put it, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own“. It will take coordinated, concrete actions, a synchronised framework implemented in all countries to manifest this vision.
It is worth repeating that men, mostly old, wealthy and white, are still over-represented in all European institutions. We firmly believe this is not a true democracy, until everyone is represented fairly. Women compose half of the population and yet they are only represented by 36% of the current parliament.
This is why we have been running a campaign, with our members in all Member States, presenting and developing our vision for a Europe for Women and Women for Europe. Our main objective is to achieve gender parity in all the institutions and in the “EU Top jobs“ and to ensure that women’s human rights are put at the center of the European project. We want to remove the structural obstacles many talented women still face in their political careers and/or participation. We communicate our demands to the European Union and its members in our manifesto asking for a new type of leadership: a leadership that is transformative, inclusive, caring, feminist. We need women at the core of this leadership, because we need all points of views, experiences, diversity of ideas and backgrounds represented.
We, women from Europe and beyond, will keep on engaging, mobilising and fighting for our freedom, to achieve equality and realise our basic rights. We hope the European Union will hear and acknowledge these voices in its effort to manifest and guarantee a Europe that ensures equality between women and men.
About the authors:
Manon Deshayes (@manon_dshs) works at the European Women’s Lobby as a Policy and Campaigns Assistant where she coordinates the 50/50 campaign for the European elections: Women for Europe – Europe for Women. Sign our petition and share our pledge to your candidates for the elections!
Adeola Naomi Aderemi (@AdeolaNAderemi) works at the European Women’s Lobby as a Communications and Media Officer. She has Masters of Science in Public Health from Birmingham City University and is also currently working on raising awareness among the general public on issues concerning human trafficking and the empowerment of women and creating a platform for under-represented women in the global media.