Women in local and regional government: Still a long way from achieving parity

02-03-2020

Local and regional institutions have direct impacts on the everyday lives of their citizens. They are vital for women's empowerment, being both the level of governance responsible for service delivery and a potential stepping-stone to a career in public office at national and European level. When their own decision-making bodies are fully representative, the interests and experiences of multiple groups are included. Therefore, the equal representation of women and men at all levels of local governance is a democratic imperative. After all, women form half the population and need to be better represented in power structures. The representation of women in local and regional assemblies across the EU continues to improve, albeit at a slow rate. However, a number of social, political and institutional obstacles hinder the involvement of women in regional and local government structures. As data show, progress towards equal representation in local and regional government remains slow. Furthermore, progress cannot be taken for granted: in certain EU countries, previous achievements have been reversed. A number of structural and societal barriers continue to hinder women from seeking office and from fulfilling their mandates or accessing leadership positions. In order to boost female representation in local/regional structures, various local and regional strategies have been adopted. The European Union has been a staunch advocate of women's participation in decision-making at all levels of governance. Gender equality is one of the founding values of the European Union, as can be seen in Article 2 and in Article 3, paragraph 3, of the Treaty on European Union. Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) also reiterates that one of the EU's missions is the elimination of inequalities and the promotion of equality between women and men in all its actions. The European Parliament has adopted a number of resolutions supporting gender balance measures in political decision-making. Nevertheless, laws determining local and regional participation fall within the remit of the EU Member States. This is an updated and expanded edition of an 'At a glance' note from March 2019, PE 635.549.

Local and regional institutions have direct impacts on the everyday lives of their citizens. They are vital for women's empowerment, being both the level of governance responsible for service delivery and a potential stepping-stone to a career in public office at national and European level. When their own decision-making bodies are fully representative, the interests and experiences of multiple groups are included. Therefore, the equal representation of women and men at all levels of local governance is a democratic imperative. After all, women form half the population and need to be better represented in power structures. The representation of women in local and regional assemblies across the EU continues to improve, albeit at a slow rate. However, a number of social, political and institutional obstacles hinder the involvement of women in regional and local government structures. As data show, progress towards equal representation in local and regional government remains slow. Furthermore, progress cannot be taken for granted: in certain EU countries, previous achievements have been reversed. A number of structural and societal barriers continue to hinder women from seeking office and from fulfilling their mandates or accessing leadership positions. In order to boost female representation in local/regional structures, various local and regional strategies have been adopted. The European Union has been a staunch advocate of women's participation in decision-making at all levels of governance. Gender equality is one of the founding values of the European Union, as can be seen in Article 2 and in Article 3, paragraph 3, of the Treaty on European Union. Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) also reiterates that one of the EU's missions is the elimination of inequalities and the promotion of equality between women and men in all its actions. The European Parliament has adopted a number of resolutions supporting gender balance measures in political decision-making. Nevertheless, laws determining local and regional participation fall within the remit of the EU Member States. This is an updated and expanded edition of an 'At a glance' note from March 2019, PE 635.549.