Why The European Elections Are A Feminist Issue (And Why You Should Vote!)

  • May 7th, 2019
  • Blog

On the 23rd of May people across Europe will head to the poles to cast their vote in the European Parliamentary elections. The results of these elections will greatly impact European policy making over the next 5 years and will see a change in not only the composition of European Parliament but also a change in those holding key decision making positions. Traditionally women have been grossly underrepresented in European Parliament – currently women make up just 37% of its members. The effect of this is not just confined to politics, it trickles down into all areas of public life as the lack of women in positions of political power means that the voices and needs of ordinary women and non-men are more likely to go unheard.

These elections provide us with an opportunity to try to combat under representation and create a more balanced European Parliament. This is more crucial than ever as right wing populism threatens to curtail the advancement of women’s rights, ensuring gender based violence, sexual violence and wage inequality remain prevalent.

Here at GenPol we believe that women/non men need a voice in Europe –  they need a seat at the table to ensure that their rights are considered and taken seriously. The only way this will happen is through going out and voting. For this reason we urge everyone eligible to vote to make sure that they are registered by midnight on the 7th of May so to ensure that they can make their voices heard on the 23rd.

If you would like to learn more about the impact of the European Elections on women’s rights and gender equality we’ve put together a round up of our favourite articles on the EU elections, outlining the specific ways that the European Elections could impact women and the many reasons that you should vote later this month. You can also consult GenPol blogs by our Research associates here ,here, and here, as well as GenPol Research Associate Nathalie Greenfield’s article in the EU observer.



Summary: Women are underrepresented in european parliament, parliamentary elections a chance to change this The US midterms saw a record number of women elected to Congress, women are becoming more vocal in a backlash against trumpThere are also plenty of things to be vocal about in the EU; Brexit, The rise of right wing populism, immigration. It is in everyone’s interest to have more women on the ballot, as this will more accurately reflect the electorate. To shift the tone of the debate and the way we tackle major issues in europe, we need more women in European Parliament


Summary: Technical recommendations are not enough (gender quotas, equal positioning on lists) as there are also social factors contributing to the insufficient representation of women which need to be addressed. These include self exclusion, widespread hostility, sexism and sexual stereotypes in the media and unwillingness on the part of political organisations to foster female talent. This article reminds us that ‘equal presence does not mean equal power’ and that even once elected women face the highly gendered power dynamics of the political system. Ultimately, equal representation is a necessary but insufficient condition for genuine equality in politics, also important what sorts of roles women are occupying once they have been elected i.e. only two European political parties (the greens and the radical left) have a female chair or co chair


Summary: This article outlines the 50/50: Women for Europe Campaign: ‘The European Women’s Lobby wants to achieve parity in the European Parliament but also amongst the commissioners and regarding the top EU jobs. We also want the EU to realise that ensuring equality between women and men and integrating a gender perspective in all policy and financial frameworks is an obligation of the European Union as per other EU treaties’. Offers recommendation through its manifesto (which can be accessed through this article)

  • Women’s lobby manifesto key points
    • A europe that realises women’s equality in political decision making
    • A europe that guarantees all women’s equal economic independence
    • A europe free from violence against women
    • A europe that provides peace, human security and dignity for all women and girls
    • A europe that channels resources for women’s human rights


Summary: Progress is slow on Europe’s endeavour to achieve gender equality. The EU estimates that improving statistics for gender equality could create more than 10 million jobs in the next few decades. Key area of concern are: Gender pay gap, ‘The Glass Ceiling’, Violence against women, Work Life Balance. The European elections offer opportunity to encourage and empower women in leadership roles and shape policy so that it can tackle issues important to women


Summary: Even though women have achieved the right to vote/stand in elections they are still grossly underrepresented in most of the power and decision making in parliament. Current political climate makes this question especially pertinent as increased support for populist and far right parties does not benefit gender balance

Emma Snell
Communications Intern

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