Supporting women’s and girls’ full, effective and meaningful participation is an unequivocal part of democracy and good governance. Promotion and empowerment of women in parliament 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. Full participation of all women and girls in public life and political discourse 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 have equal opportunities to meaningfully participate and effectively influence decisions.
Removing institutional and structural constraints, discriminatory laws, as well as cultural and attitudinal barriers remain central. The EU calls for joint efforts by all actors to address systemic discrimination, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, that still today hinder women’s full and effective participation in public life.
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 of society is crucial for consistent policy decisions to promote gender equality.
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 gender based violence and sexual harassment.
Women and girls, when exercising leadership, individually and collectively, can bring about transformation that our world direly needs. Stronger alliances between all actors; governments, private sector, civil society or academia, supporting full and effective participation of women and girls of all ages, abilities, and ethnic backgrounds 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, women-led movements and women human rights defenders in advancing women’s and girls’ rights and participation, combatting violence and creating an enabling environment for women’s full, effective and meaningful participation. Social media tools enable powerful and important activism also by young people in the digital space. Grassroots movements are transforming modes of participation.
It is important to encourage and support, both financially and otherwise, strategic coalition-building and emerging innovative movements and platforms to effectively promote gender equality 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 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “we need to ensure that women belong in all places where decisions are being made”.
I thank you.