European Parliament backs quotas for women / 13-03-2012
Sophie in 't Veld, (D66, Netherlands), Parliament's rapporteur on the annual report on the state of gender equality in the EU for 2011, is pleased with the result of today's vote, calling on the Commission to table legislation, including quotas, by the end of 2012, to increase female participation in corporate management boards. Measures to combat the lack of women at the top, both in business and in political decision making, were discussed during a heated debate in the European Parliament this week. Progress remains very slow, despite numerous EU policies aimed at achieving a better gender-balance.
Too slow, according to in 't Veld. "After decades of stagnation, it is high time to act. I don't think there is anyone who is really in favor of quotas. It is a necessary evil, because voluntary measures have got us nowhere. Quotas are a very blunt instrument, and they can only have an impact in combination with other measures to facilitate and support more women in senior positions in both the public and private sector. Without measures to boost women at the top, at the current pace of change it will take until 2040 to reach gender parity. Both for moral and economic reasons we cannot afford to leave the huge potential of female talent unused."
In 't Veld adds: "I do not accept the argument that quotas lead to "token women". Sure, there are incompetent women, but if I look at the current state of our economy, you cannot possibly claim that the 97% of male business leaders have been selected purely on the basis of merit. We need an instrument to break the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling is not a visible brick wall, but it consists of very subtle, invisible, often not even conscious mechanisms that constitute an obstacle to equal representation of women. And I would like to quote Maureen Reagan who already decades ago said: "I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there."
In national parliaments across the EU only 24% are women.
Mrs. Bilbao Barandica (PNV, Spain), ALDE spokesperson on women in political decision-making considers that, given the importance of increasing the participation of women in politics and in having the interests of women represented, positive action measures such as electoral quotas should be implemented. She comments: "In Basque country quotas were introduced already in 2005, resulting in a well-balanced political representation of both women and men: female representation went up from 30 to 53 %.
Women have a lot to contribute: they might be different but they are not unequal. Gender inequality is inefficient and has no place in our society."
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