Local and regional government institutions are essential for women's political empowerment. They often serve as stepping stones to a national or European political career, thus impacting the gender balance at various political levels. Nevertheless, the improvement in the proportion of female members in local governments and regional assemblies continues to be very slow. In 2019, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality's Gender Equality Index 2020, gender balance in European regional assemblies was reached in just five Member States. Women accounted for one third of members of regional assemblies in 20 Member States while, more worryingly, such assemblies in three Member States were 80% male. Between 2017 and 2019, at local/municipal councils level, hardly any change towards improvement has been registered in this context: 0.5 percentage points.
On 8 March 2021, a one-day online conference entitled "For more women in politics" will reflect on the issue of women's participation in local, regional and European politics.
Members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Members of the European Parliament and participants in the CoR Young Elected Politicians Programme (YEPs) will gather on International Women's Day 2021 to highlight the urgent need to address the democratic deficit constituted by the under-representation of women in this particular field.
Registration will close on 3 March 2021
What is the state of play on gender parity in local and regional politics, and how can it be enhanced? How can women legislators address the challenges that they face on a daily basis on the web and social media? What is the added value that women legislators bring into the political debate and decision-making?
Best practices from local, regional and European level will be shared to inspire other politicians to take action. The European Institute for Gender Equality will present the main findings of the Gender Equality Index 2020, with a particular focus on power in the local and regional political sphere. Experts in countering misinformation and online hate speech will demonstrate how women politicians can react effectively and in a structured way to online gender-based violence. The event will culminate with a MEP and a CoR member encouraging women to run for office and be engaged in politics.
The event is part of an initiative launched in 2020 by the European Committee of the Regions to promote gender balance in local and regional politics and decision-making, raise awareness and promote the exchange of best practices.
The European Committee of the Regions, as the political assembly of local and regional politicians in the EU, has taken action in the area of gender equality with the adoption of the "Strategy for a gender balance in Members' participation in the CoR" and the CoR opinion on "A Union of equality: gender equality strategy 2020-2025".
The CoR opinion calls for local and regional authorities to be regarded as key partners in the design, implementation and monitoring of the EU Gender Equality Strategy, which mentions power and decision-making in politics as one of its five priority areas.
On 4 March 2021, an Inter-parliamentary meeting on the theme "Women's empowerment and leadership in Covid times" will be organised by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) of the European Parliament. Further information are available on the FEMM Committee webpage.