Although the figures have improved significantly over the
last decade, the representation of women in politics is still largely
disproportionate in most Council of Europe member States.
Women’s participation in public life is determined by a variety
of factors, be they political (electoral system, political parties’
statutes, candidate selection criteria), social (such as the welfare
system, parental leave schemes and measures to balance work and
family life), economic (for instance the gender pay gap and access
to professions and careers) or cultural (notably stereotypes on
gender roles). Access to the media and to funding is also crucial
for women who are active in politics.
Electoral quotas are the most effective positive measures,
provided they are ambitious, designed in a manner which takes into
account the type of electoral system in force, and coupled with
effective sanctions for non-compliance. However, in order to ensure
the impact of positive measures in the longer term, accompanying measures
are also necessary.
The choice and combination of positive and accompanying measures
depends on the social, cultural and political landscape of each
country. In addition, the experience of Sweden and other countries
shows that political representation reflects the role of women in
public life in general and is the result of a holistic approach, encompassing
qualitative and quantitative measures and based on a gender perspective
in all areas of society.