Working towards women's and youth's equal, full, effective and meaningful participation, in all their diversity, in all spheres and levels of public and political life is an unequivocal part of democracy and good governance. The promotion and empowerment of women in public and political life is crucial not only for decisions being credible, legitimate, but also makes them more sustainable. It contributes to gender-responsive policies in all aspects of governing, including in legislation. Promoting and protecting the full, equal, active, free, effective, meaningful, and informed participation of all women and girls, at all levels of decision-making, and of their organisations, is crucial to achieve gender equality.
The EU underlines that promoting gender-equal representation in parliament, inter alia, through the use of all possible tools and measures as appropriate, including funding, incentives and targets for political parties to recruit and nominate women candidates, is critical. Political parties should be encouraged to adopt effective measures, including the provision of information, financial and other resources, to ensure that women, including those in in vulnerable positions and situations, have equal opportunities to meaningfully participate and effectively influence decisions, as well as to serve as party officials and to be nominated as candidates for elections.
Removing institutional and structural constraints, discriminatory laws, as well as cultural and attitudinal barriers remain central. The EU calls for increased joint efforts by all actors to address systemic discrimination, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, that still today hinder women’s and girls’ full, meaningful and effective participation in public life.
It is crucial to broadly look at barriers and enabling factors for women’s full and effective participation in public life. The enabling factors are related to economic independence, access to quality education, training and access to adequate social protection, access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation, menstrual hygiene, as well as reconciliation between work and private life, the equal sharing of unpaid work, care and domestic work between women and men, access to affordable and quality social and care services and sexual and reproductive health.
The EU promotes actions to tackle vertical and horizontal segregation in public administration and promote equal representation of women at highest levels. Availability of relevant and transparent statistics on women's participation at all different levels and in all spheres of society is crucial for consistent policy decisions to promote gender equality and to monitor their effectiveness.
We recognise new forms of political participation, which span beyond traditional institutionalised forms of politics. Modern technologies are shaping political practice and modes of participation and create new opportunities for participation and representation, but may also increase risks and threats which need to be prevented and addressed, such as online and sexual and gender based violence, including sexual harassment.
Women and girls, when exercising leadership, individually and collectively, can bring about transformative change that our world direly needs. A multi-stakeholder and intersectional approach is needed. Building stronger alliances between all actors; governments, youth, private sector, civil society or academia, to support full, meaningful and effective participation of all women and girls needs to be a stronger joint priority for all of us.
The EU stresses the indispensable role of a thriving and free civil society, in particular women’s rights organisations, feminist organisations, girl-, youth- and women-led movements and women human rights defenders in advancing women’s and girls’ rights and participation, combatting sexual and gender-based violence and creating an enabling environment for women’s and girls’ full, equal, effective and meaningful participation. Grassroots movements are transforming modes of participation, closing the gender digital divide. Social media tools enable powerful and important activism in the digital space also by young people, especially young women
It is important to encourage, incentivise and support, both financially and otherwise, strategic coalition-building and emerging innovative movements and platforms to effectively promote gender equality and all women’s and girls’ participation.
Today, the EU is calling for recognition of women and girls as agents of change, their critical role in political participation and decision-making, as well as in influential positions in business life and all other areas of economic and social life. To quote the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “we need to ensure that women belong in all places where decisions are being made”.
I thank you.