Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Equality of women and men in local life

International women's day - 05.03.2020

The EU’s Gender Equality Strategy must support efforts to empower local women leaders
Ahead of the publication of the European Commission’s 2020-2024 Gender Equality Strategy, local representatives call on all the EU institutions to support efforts to increase the share of women in decision-making, particularly in local government. 
There are 1 million local and regional elected officials in Europe, but only about 30% of those are women”, said Silvia Baraldi, Municipal Councillor of Legnago (Italy) and Vice-President of CEMR’s Standing Committee for Equality. “Closing the gender gap locally can have huge leverage effects in terms of making our societies more democratic and inclusive at all levels.”
As detailed in CEMR’s study “Women in Politics: Local and European Trends”, women’s political underrepresentation persists across Europe. One-of-a-kind, the CEMR study shows that despite an increase in the proportion of female elected officials over the past decade, underrepresentation remains particularly striking in positions of top leadership, with just 15% of mayors and 18% of presidents of regions being women.

How local governments and the EU can work together for gender equality
  • Representation: Provide funding and political support for training and mentoring programmes for aspiring female local leaders. Political parties should commit to achieving gender parity concerning their own electoral lists, candidates and elected officials.
  • Funding: EU funds and programmes such as EFSI, ERDF, and ESF+, and the Rights and Values programme should finance local initiatives and projects promoting gender equality such as the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life, awareness-raising campaigns fighting gender stereotypes and investments in infrastructure supporting better work-life balance such as childcare services. EU funds in general should take the gender dimension into account throughout the budgeting process.
  • Data: The EU should improve the collection sex-disaggregated data on local and regional elections and representation. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) should be empowered to improve and harmonise data collection and analysis on women and men’s participation in political decision-making positions, in particular at the regional and local level, so as to monitor progress both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The Commission’s proposed Strategy will now be sent to the European Parliament and Council for amendment and adoption. CEMR will be advocating directly with policymakers to include these messages in the new Strategy.
Further reading
CEMR study, “Women in Politics: Local and European Trends” (ENFR), provides in-depth analysis of women’s representation in 41 European countries and all levels of government, from local councils all the way up to the European Parliament. Covering a ten-year period, the study breaks down the data by country.
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