[Documents/Docheader.htm]

Women’s participation in elections

Doc. 10202
7 June 2004

Report
Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
Rapporteur: Mr Paschal Mooney, Ireland, Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group


Summary

Women have made great strides regarding their right to participate in elections in the last century but progress to full democratic participation has been uneven. Today, women’s effective participation in elections is threatened by two developments: as regards the right to vote, in a number of European countries, some women are being prevented from freely casting their own vote by such undemocratic practices as “family voting”. As regards the right to be elected, in nearly all European countries, women continue to be underrepresented in elected office.

Council of Europe member states have the duty to ensure that European standards within the democratic election process are met, and that women are given a fair chance both to freely elect the candidate of their choice and to be elected themselves.

The Assembly should thus recommend that the Committee of Ministers draw up a “Charter for Electoral Equality” in which Council of Europe member states would subscribe to concerted action to guarantee women’s electoral rights and to improve the electoral participation of women. This Charter should include all measures necessary to outlaw and eliminate “family voting” and set the objective to increase the representation of women in parliament and other elected assemblies to at least 40% by the year 2020.

The Assembly should also call on all Council of Europe member states to undertake awareness-raising measures in order to bring about a lasting change of attitudes and traditions to ensure the full participation of women in elections at all levels and in all respects.

I.          Draft recommendation [Link to the adopted text]

1.         Women have made great strides regarding their right to participate in elections in the last century. They fought hard for – and obtained – the right to vote and to be elected. These rights are no longer disputed. Women have also made other significant political advances but progress to full democratic participation has been uneven.

2.         Today, women’s effective participation in elections is threatened by two developments: as regards the right to vote, in a number of European countries, some women are being prevented from freely casting their own vote by such undemocratic practices as “family voting”. As regards the right to be elected, in nearly all European countries, women continue to be underrepresented in elected office.

3.         “Family voting” occurs in three ways: in group voting, where a male family member accompanies one or more women relatives into a polling booth; in open voting, when family groups vote together in the open; and in proxy voting, where a male family member collects ballot papers belonging to one or more women relatives and marks those papers as he sees fit. “Family voting” is an undemocratic practice which disenfranchises women voters and should not be tolerated.

4.         The underrepresentation of women in elected office hampers the full democratic development of most Council of Europe member states, as only one country (Sweden) has achieved the parity threshold set out in Recommendation Rec(2003) 3 of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making, i.e. 40% representation in Parliament on the national level. The presence of women in parliaments and other elected assemblies is a key component of democracy. Increasing the proportion of women in elected office would be an efficient route to social and democratic change which would benefit women and men alike.

5.         Council of Europe member states therefore have the duty to ensure that European standards within the democratic election process are met and that women are given a fair chance both to freely elect the candidate of their choice and to be elected themselves.

6.         The Parliamentary Assembly thus recommends that the Committee of Ministers draw up a  “Charter for Electoral Equality” (if appropriate, asking the opinion of the Venice Commission) in which Council of Europe member States would subscribe to concerted action to guarantee women’s electoral rights and to improve the electoral participation of women. This Charter should:

i.          include all measures necessary to outlaw and eliminate “family voting”, in particular by:

a.    organising awareness-raising campaigns during pre-election periods accentuating that “family voting” is a serious violation of electoral rights;

b.    enabling sub-literate voters to make an individual decision by designing ballot papers  sensitive to voters’ needs (including for example dual-language ballot papers, party symbols and/or photos);

c.    training electoral commissions’ officials in the conduct of democratic polling, with particular attention paid to the prevention of family voting;

d.    introducing sanctions against electoral commissions’ officials in polling stations where family voting is detected and invalidating the results of voting in these polling stations;

ii.         set the objective to increase the representation of women in parliament and other elected assemblies to the level of at least 40% by the year 2020, in particular by:

a.    removing any constitutional or legal barriers to positive measures aiming at gender parity;

b.    encouraging political parties to adopt positive measures to ensure increased representation of women candidates;

c.    adopting legislative reforms to introduce parity thresholds for candidates in elections at local, regional, national and supra-national levels;

d.    inviting speakers of parliaments to ensure a discrimination- and harassment-free environment conducive to conciliation of private and political life;

e.    where electoral systems are shown to have a negative impact on the political representation of women in elected bodies, adjusting or reforming those systems to promote gender-balanced representation;

f.    instituting gender-neutral quotas for required numbers of female and male candidates on party lists. Double quota (e.g. zipping) systems are especially recommended because they ensure that women are sufficiently well placed to be elected. Quotas should be time-limited and proportionate;

g.    taking action through the public funding of political parties in order to encourage them to promote gender equality;

h.    applying these measures to all elected posts, such as Presidents and Mayors where applicable, as well as to all bodies constituted as a result of elections, such as governments;

i.    adopting appropriate legislative and/or administrative measures to ensure that there is gender-balanced representation in all national delegations to international organisations and fora;

j.    developing specific training and publicity packages to encourage women candidates to contest elections ;

k.    ensuring equal access to the mass media to male and female candidates and encouraging media professionals to give equal visibility to female and male candidates and elected representatives in the media, especially during election periods.

7.         The Assembly calls on all Council of Europe member states to undertake awareness-raising measures, including gender education, in order to bring about a lasting change of attitudes and traditions to ensure the full participation of women in elections at all levels and in all respects.

8.         Finally, the Parliamentary Assembly also recommends that national parliaments and international organisations which carry out election monitoring, including the Assembly itself, try to attain gender balance when appointing the members of election observation missions. In addition, the gender dimension of electoral participation should be appropriately monitored during such missions.

II.         Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur, Mr Mooney

Table of contents

A.         Introduction

a.         Scope of the report

b.         International legal protection of women’s rights

B.         Discrimination of women through “family voting”

C.         Women’s representation in parliaments and the influence of electoral systems

D.         Legal quotas as a method to increase women’s political representation

a.         Legal quotas

b.         Party-level quotas

c.         Constitutional and legal provisions

d.         Comparative conclusion

E.         The role of the media in promoting women’s participation

F.         Election observation

G.         Recommendations

A.         Introduction

a.         Scope of the report

1.                  During the last century, women have made great strides regarding their right to participate in elections. They fought hard for – and obtained – the right to vote and to be elected. These rights are no longer disputed. Women have also made other significant political advances (via, for example, the introduction of quota systems), but progress to full democratic participation has been uneven. In practice, in some European countries, women have been prevented from freely casting their own vote by some undemocratic practices such as “family voting”. In nearly all European countries, women are underrepresented in elected office.

2.                  Women’s political participation is a key component of democracy. Therefore Council of Europe member states have to ensure that European standards within the democratic election process are met, and that women are given a fair chance both to freely elect the candidate of their choice and to be elected themselves.

3.                  This explanatory memorandum addresses certain questions which still call for concerted collective action, ranging from the exercise of the franchise to representation in parliament. The principle objective of this memorandum is to highlight the major obstacles women face when exercising their right to vote and to be elected and to determine the main means of overcoming these obstacles. It is also important to analyse, using the examples of some countries, the main mechanisms and strategies which can be used for the promotion of women’s participation in elections.

4.                  In the preparation of this report I relied on the expert paper prepared by Ms Maedhbh McNamara (Ireland)[1] and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for her valuable contribution.

b.         International legal protection of women’s rights

5.                  The key human rights instruments developed after the Second World War provide international standards for women’s participation in electoral processes.

6.                  Article 2 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights state that everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms, without any distinctions and everyone has a right to equal access to public service in his country.

7.                  Article 2 and 25 of the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights provide that “every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions… to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of electors”.

8.                  International human rights law recognises that giving substantive effect to the principle of equality and rectifying disadvantage may require limited and proportionate affirmative action in favour of a disenfranchised group, to correct social and historical patterns of unequal treatment. Positive action measures taken in pursuit of securing substantive equality have to be proportionate and necessary to achieve this aim. Article 4.1 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) provides for “temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality for men and women….these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of treatment have been achieved”.

9.                   Article 7 states that such measures may be used to secure equality of political representation.

10.               Finally, articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women stipulate that “women shall be entitled to vote in all elections on equal terms with men, without any distinctions…” and “shall be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies, established by national law”.

11.               The UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) says States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

a.                  to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women (Article 5) States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:

b.                  to vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies (Article 7).

12.               All Council of Europe member states surveyed below have at a minimum acceded to the UN CEDAW (above) and are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. This makes Article 7 enforceable in member states.

B.         Discrimination of women through “family voting”

13.               The term “family voting” refers to the practice of men influencing women members of their family during the voting procedure. “Family voting” occurs in three ways: in group voting, where a male family member accompanies one or more women relatives into a polling booth; in open voting, when family groups vote together in the open; and in proxy voting, where a male family member collects ballot papers belonging to one or more women relatives and marks those papers as he sees fit. Such practices imply failure to comply with international legal instruments, including, for example, the Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right to free and secret suffrage, and also the national legal instruments or the constitutions of the states in which this practice is discerned. Failure to protect this right amounts to the disenfranchisement of women, flawed electoral proceedings and the possibility of electoral fraud.

14.               The practice of “family voting” was first recorded in observer reports of elections in newly-democratising Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries during the period 1995-2001. These countries, in almost every case, had made constitutional provision for equality between women and men, the right to vote and the secret ballot, but these provisions were not always implemented in all polling stations.

15.               Data collected for the observer reports, while valuable in identifying the problem, was not systematically collected for the purpose of analysing this issue, and does not give a detailed picture of the nature and extent of the phenomenon. Systematic research on this topic has not yet been undertaken.

16.               Independent election observer reports from the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) along with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have documented occurrences in the CLRAE publication, Women’s individual voting rights: a democratic requirement (Council of Europe Publishing, 2002). Occurrences were observed in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Ukraine. 

17.               The practice of family voting has been identified in member states with relatively new democratic political structures. The severity of the problem varies from one country to another and also from election to election: family voting was seldom observed in Poland and Bulgaria and was of minor significance in Hungary. Over time family voting appeared to decrease in Georgia, but it continued to be a widespread practice in other former Soviet states. Explanations for this practice proffered to election observers focused on local attitudes and traditions, where it is customary for men to speak and act for women in public and political affairs. In some areas the practice was identified as a post-communist phenomenon rather than an ethnic one. Observer reports suggest that the majority of observations of family voting occurred in rural communities. Polling officials in many cases made little effort to stop the practice, even though it infringes electoral and constitutional laws.

18.                In a few Central and Eastern European countries the electoral law could be clarified to attain the highest standards of democratic principles (see CLRAE, op. cit). For example, open voting is not against the law in Hungary. Article 68.1 of Act 100 (1997) states: ‘Voters may not be obligated to use polling booths’. Bosnia Herzegovina could also introduce an explicit provision on the secret ballot.  In Lithuania, the Election Law is not clear. In section 6 of Article 65 of the Election Law, the English translation states that ‘The voter who because of his physical disability is unable to mark the ballot himself, cast it in the ballot box, may invite another person (with the exception of the chairperson of the committee or its members or an election observer) to carry out these actions in his place’. The Lithuanian text employs a wider term, closer to ‘physical impairment’. No provisions are made for the electoral committee to ask for any sort of proof of ‘physical impairment’ from the voter, (in contrast to the requirement for written proof of disability for the purpose of home voting) or even to have the right to grant permission to such a voter to enter the polling booth accompanied by another person. As a result of this, the electoral committees did not wish to intervene, for fear of confrontation, when several family members entered polling booths together. (CLRAE, op.cit.).

19.               Detailed country-specific research would be required to analyse the phenomenon of “family voting”. In the absence of such research, certain hypotheses have been advanced. There may be some validity in the “incomplete democracy” hypothesis that voting practices in new pluralist democracies are not as established as they are in consolidated democracies. The fundamental principle of ‘one person, one vote’, based on a secret individual ballot, is not yet fully reflected in electoral practices.

20.               The second hypothesis, offered in some cases, suggest that women are less literate than men, and therefore need to be assisted in casting their vote. This explanation may mask a more fundamental perception that political and public activities are not the preserve of women.

21.               Nevertheless it is interesting that the majority of the countries under consideration have higher female illiteracy rates than men. In some countries the gap is striking. For example, the official male illiteracy rate for men (in year 2000) in Albania is 9% compared to 23% for women. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the male illiteracy rate is 2% compared to 12% for women. These countries also had high levels of reports of family voting. No illiteracy figures are available for the “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which reports high levels of family voting. Hungary and Poland have equal – low - illiteracy rates for women and men and coincidentally lower reporting of family voting.

22.               Official illiteracy rates may be the tip of the iceberg. An OECD study published in 2000 found high levels of ‘functional illiteracy’ in 22 OECD countries. It found, for example, that  in all the countries surveyed, at least 25% of  adults failed to reach minimum literacy levels for coping with everyday life and work in a complex, advanced society. (Literacy in the information age. Paris, OECD, 2000). Across countries, the OECD literacy report observes, higher literacy attainments tend to be associated with a higher percentage of women in elected political positions. (OECD, op.cit.)

23.                Embarrassment is associated with illiteracy: people who cannot read or write learn to conceal the fact and can do so for a long time. Indeed, such embarrassment was recorded by election observers in several countries surveyed (Hungary, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina). Such evidence suggests a need for practical measures to assist individual voters in polling booths to exercise their secret ballot.

24.               In fact, it should be quite easy to enable sub-literate voters to make an individual decision by designing ballot papers sensitive to voters’ needs (including for example dual-language ballot papers, party symbols and/or photos). It will be more difficult to eradicate certain attitudes and traditions which also seem to play a role in some of the places where “family voting” has been observed, as the following examples illustrate.

25.               During the Croatian presidential campaign in 2000, Presidential candidate, Ante Prkacin, expressed his belief that “no matter what they say, Croatian women will vote for the candidate their husbands vote for” (HTV, 12 January 2000). According to Prkacin, presidential elections are “too serious”, which means women cannot be trusted to make a decision on their own. (B.a.B.e. Women’s Human Rights Group, Zagreb, Croatia.www.babe.hr).

26.               In Serbia, “politics continues to be seen as men’s domain. Only 10.8% of members of Parliament are women, and many women still ask their husbands for permission to vote. Democracy is new to Serbia, and no doubt there will be the usual rash of unrealistic expectations.” (Hunt, Swanee. International Herald Tribune, 10 July 2001. Learn from the women behind the fall of Milosevic).

27.                In Turkey, until the end of 2001, articles 152 and 153 of the Civil Code stipulated that “the husband is the family head” and the home was the wife’s responsibility. A recent study on women’s electoral behaviour (carried out after the elections in 1999 by the “Association of Inquiry and Examination of Women’s Social Life”) revealed that only 15% of the women polled were asked by their husbands to vote in line with their husbands’ political choice – of which more than half did not vote in favour of that choice.

28.               It would thus seem that the key safeguard against interference with the free vote is implementation of the electoral laws providing for the secrecy of the ballot. In older democracies where the individual right to vote is well established, patriarchal traditions remain at the informal level and do not result in practices which demonstrably interfere with the secrecy of the ballot. Nevertheless, such practices can be associated with certain geographical and social groups.

“During the last election [in June 2001] I spent two utterly dispiriting days trailing along behind the five Asian candidates in Bradford West…No women were at any of their political meetings and the candidates were not at all worried about this democratic deficit. Women I spoke to in the streets (in Urdu and surreptitiously) said in resigned voices that they would vote for the person their religious and community leaders told them to”. (Alibhai-Brown,Yasmin. The Independent (London), 29 April 2002).

29.               Council of Europe member states should take all necessary measures to outlaw and eliminate “family voting”. In particular, they could organise awareness-raising campaigns during pre-election periods accentuating that “family voting” is a strong violation of electoral rights. They should also train electoral commissions’ officials in the conduct of democratic polling, with particular attention paid to the prevention of family voting, and consider introducing sanctions against electoral commissions’ officials in polling stations where family voting is detected - including invalidating the results of voting in these polling stations.

C.         Women’s representation in parliaments and the influence of electoral systems

30.               “The presence of women in parliaments is one of the clearest indicators of women’s participation in political processes”. (Women in politics and decision-making in the late 20th century, United Nations, 1992). The countries reporting incidences of family voting tend to have low levels of women’s representation in parliament.

31.               The elections in several countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), following the fall of the Communist regimes which had artificially boosted women’s representation, reveal a striking loss of women representatives in many new parliaments, to levels considerably below the Council of Europe average proportion –18.4%--of women in parliament in 2003.  For example, the proportion of women in the Lower House in Hungary fell from 26.6% in 1985 to 9.8% in 2003, in Romania from 34.4% to 10.7% in 2003 and from 32.9% in the USSR to 7.6% in the Russian Federation in 2003. Other CEE countries with women below the Council of Europe average proportion, are Georgia and Serbia/ Montenegro with 7.2%, Albania with 5.7%, Ukraine with 5.3%, Turkey with 4.4% and Armenia with 3.1%. Indeed, in the 2002 election the proportion of women in the Ukrainian parliament fell by 2.6%. (Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union).

32.                A positive trend in Central and Eastern European countries, counterpointing the drop in numbers of women in parliaments, is that women are active in self-organising at the grass-roots level. In most of these countries, the civil society sector is predominantly staffed by women and many deal specifically with women’s problems, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. There are many women NGOs and/or NGOs in which women are among the founders and most active members. The number of NGOs, which were practically nonexistent until 1989, has increased dramatically all over the CEE area. In Romania there are some 12,000 registered, 10,000 of which are outside Bucharest. In Hungary, there are more; about 50,000 are registered and they are very active. Poland has about 45,000 NGOs registered and Slovakia and Slovenia also have impressive numbers that are growing. The ability of NGOs to attract volunteers is uneven, as most people are preoccupied with existential matters. Most of these organisations are therefore small and concentrate on local, specific matters. NGOs working in the field of democracy, citizenship and human rights tend to be a small proportion of the total. The majority of these NGOs are usually cultural or religious organisations or groups concerned with sport or hobbies. Even these affect political culture by encouraging self-organisation and a sense of individual empowerment. (Silovic, Darko. United Nations Human Development Report. Regional Study on Human Development and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe, November 1999).

33.                The experience of older democracies suggests that the agendas of voluntary organisations may not result in a public policy response without a bridge between voluntary activity and government. Such a bridge, to facilitate the leap for women from NGOs into policy-making arenas, could be provided by a specific mechanism, such as quotas.

34.               Given that “the presence of women in parliaments is one of the clearest indicators of women’s participation in political processes”. (op. cit.), it would appear that increasing the proportion of women in parliament would be an efficient route to other social and democratic changes. It would be useful to analyse countries which have successfully introduced positive measures and contrast their approach with that of countries who have encountered difficulties in introducing methods to increase the proportion of women in parliament. Council of Europe member states range from those which are ranked highest in the world in their proportion of women Members to those among the lowest. There is now a body of comparative experience. Below is the classification of Council of Europe countries by descending order of the percentage of women in the lower or single House of the national parliament in January 2004.

1. Sweden 45.3%
2. Denmark 38.0%
3. Finland 37.5%
4. Netherlands 36.7%
5. Norway 36.4%
6. Spain 36%
7. Belgium 35.3%
8. Austria 33.9%
9. Germany 32.2%
10. Iceland 30.2%
11. Bulgaria  26.2%
12. Switzerland 25%
13. Latvia 21.0%
14. Poland 20.2%
15. Slovakia 19.3%
16. Portugal 19.1%
17. Estonia 18.8%
18. “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” 18.3%/ Luxembourg 18.3%
19. United Kingdom 17.9%
20. Croatia 17.8%
21. Czech Republic 17.0%
22. Bosnia & Herzegovina 16.7%/ San Marino 16.7%
23. Andorra 14.3%
24. Greece 14%
25. Ireland 13.3%
26. Republic of Moldova 12.9%
27. France 12.2%/ Slovenia 12.2%
28. Liechtenstein 12.0%
29. Italy 11.5%
30. Cyprus 10.7%/Romania 10.7%
31. Lithuania 10.6%
32. Azerbaijan 10.5%
33. Hungary 9.8%, Russian Federation 9.8%
34. Georgia 9.4%
35. Malta 9.2%
36. Serbia and Montenegro 7.9%
37. Albania 5.7%
38. Ukraine 5.3%
39. Armenia 4.6%
40. Turkey 4.4%

Source: InterParliamentary Union, 30 April 2004 (for Luxembourg, information provided by Mrs Err).

The average for women in the lower houses of national parliament throughout the Council of Europe area is 18.77%

35.               Countries that have succeeded in raising levels of women’s representation beyond minimal levels have almost invariably used some form of “positive action” to achieve this. There is a consensus amongst comparative studies that quotas make a positive impact on the number of women represented. Under these systems, women are in effect assured election to the legislature, either through quotas in electoral law or quotas in the selection procedures of political parties. The principle of the quota system is to place the burden of recruitment not on the individual woman but on those who control the recruitment process. The core idea is to recruit women into political positions and to ensure that they are not isolated in political life. (Dahlerup, Drude and Lenita Freidenvall. Quotas as a fast track to equal representation for women: why Scandinavia is no longer the model. Paper presented at the 19th International Political Science Association World Congress in Durban, South Africa, June 29 to July 4, 2003).

36.                Of the top ten countries in the above table, all except Denmark and Finland are now using quotas, whether at legal or party level.  Denmark has used them in the past and Finland has quotas for municipal bodies. Use of such systems began on a voluntary basis in the Nordic countries in the 1970s, and are today being introduced by an increasing number of countries throughout the world.

37.                The Charter of Rome 1996 (signed by women ministers of European Union countries) stated that: “Where progress has been made, notably in the area of public life (in elected assemblies, in councils and consultative committees etc.) this has been the result of putting into force incentives and/or legislative or regulatory measures on the part of governments and political parties”.

38.                In 1999 the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted recommendation 1413 which stated that: “The Assembly therefore invites its national delegations to urge their parliaments to introduce specific measures to correct the under-representation of women in political life, and in particular…to institute equal representation in political parties and to make their funding conditional upon the achievement of this objective.”

39.               Although these declarations are not legally binding, they do indicate that in the context of Europe the adoption of quota policies has become an accepted and significant strategy, despite opposition from some quarters. Recommendation Rec(2003) 3 of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making inter alia recommended introducing 40% parity thresholds.  However, certain countries which have tried to introduce positive measures have encountered constitutional difficulties or obstacles at the level of electoral law. It is useful to identify the factors which lead to success or failure in this area.

D.         Legal quotas as a method to increase women’s political representation

a.         Legal quotas

40.                Five countries in Europe have an election law quota regulation for national parliaments. Belgium’s quota of 33 % was introduced in 1994 and modified in 2002, resulting in 35.3% women in parliament in the 2003 election. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (of 33%) was introduced in 2001, giving 16.7% women in 2002. France’s quotas (of 45%) were introduced in 1999/2000, yielding a parliament of 12.2% women in 2002. “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”’s quota of 30% yielded a parliament of 18.3% women in 2002. Serbia & Montenegro’s quota of 30%, for Serbia only, introduced in 2002 gave a result of 7.9% women in 2003. From these mixed results it is apparent that quotas must be carefully designed if they are to be successful.

41.                Legal quota systems do not automatically lead to higher representation than systems with only party quotas. These factors will be discussed below.

42.                It is recognised that List – Proportional Representation (List-PR) systems are more compatible with positive action, provided that women are placed sufficiently high on the lists to be elected. One technique used to ensure this outcome is called “zipping” in which male and female candidates are alternated on the list. The top ten systems in the list above use List-PR or in the case of Germany, a mixed system, the PR element of which is amenable to positive measures. Majority systems such as France and the UK have both addressed the difficulties of using quota systems.

43.                Most quota systems aim at increasing women’s representation, because the problem to be addressed is seen as rectifying the barriers, whether overt or hidden, which results in the under-representation of women. A minimum requirement for women implies a maximum set for the representation of men. Some quota systems are formulated in a gender-neutral way, in which a maximum is set for both sexes. Gender- neutrality may overcome opposition from quarters in which quotas are regarded as a discrimination against men. Gender-neutral quotas have on occasion helped men to be elected.

44.                Countries without electoral laws prescribing positive action can be successful in implementing positive measures through political parties provided the constitutional and electoral framework does not impose barriers to them (Russell, Meg and Colm Ó Cinnéide. Positive action to promote women in politics: some European comparisons. ICLQ vol 52, July 2003pp.587-614). Sweden until September 2003 enjoyed the highest level of women’s representation in a national parliament in the world and is now in second place. Norway similarly has high levels of representation and was one of the first countries where political parties adopted positive action. Both these states give parties almost complete autonomy from legal regulation. In contrast Germany has a highly regulated party system governed to an unusually large extent by constitutional and statutory provisions. Despite this high level of regulation, parties in the German system have successfully made use of quotas to achieve greater equality. Denmark’s parties introduced quotas in the 1977 -1985 period but these have now been abandoned.

45.                France has until recently had constitutional obstacles to positive action and comparatively low levels of women’s representation. Following constitutional and electoral law changes in 1999-2000, France now has one of the most radical quota policies in Europe. Like the UK, France has a single member constituency system for parliamentary elections which complicates the application of the parity principle. The positive measures could not overcome this structural obstacle, producing a disappointing result of 12.2% women elected in the 2002 general election.

46.                The United Kingdom Labour Party introduced a quota system named “all-women shortlists” in 1993. Though controversial, it was applied successfully. 35 women were selected from all-women shortlists and became MPs at the 1997 election. This was a major contribution to the increase in the number of female Labour MPs from 37 to 101 and to the doubling of the total women in parliament from 60 to 120, that is, from 9% to 18%. However the system of all- women shortlists was ended before the 1997 election because of legal challenges which exposed uncertainties in the status of political parties in electoral law. These will be discussed below. In the absence of an effective positive action mechanism, the proportion of women in the House of Commons fell at the 2001 election for the first time in 22 years. For these reasons the UK government changed the law to enable political parties to use positive action measures freely.

47.                As a result of the legal challenge, difficulties were posed for positive measures for elections to the newly-devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly due to be held in 1999. The Labour Party devised a procedure, called ‘twinning’ which would avoid the legal difficulties of all-women shortlists. Constituencies were paired on the basis of winability and geography and a male and a female candidate was selected for each pair of constituencies. No legal challenge ensued and the system resulted in 39.5% women in the Scottish Parliament and 50% women in the Welsh Assembly, the first gender balanced parliament in the world.

48.                Belgium passed a law in 1994 requiring that a minimum of 25% women be on all party lists for election. In 1999 this quota was increased to 33%. If a party does not include these places for women the places must be left open. The quota did not state where women were to be placed on the list and its impact was, as a result, limited. Another law passed in 2002 stipulated that, in the first election to which the law applies, the top three positions on the lists cannot be held by members of the same sex. In the subsequent election, the top two on the list should not be of the same sex. This is a form of zipping - in which male and female candidates are alternated on the list - for electoral lists. Zipping has proved to be a particularly successful mechanism because women are placed sufficiently high on the list to be elected. Another term used to describe this effect is a “double quota”.

49.                In 1994 Finland enacted a quota law, the Finnish Equality Act, which established a 40% quota for both sexes in all government committees and municipal bodies as well as the executive and administrative bodies in public authority and state-owned companies. The Act did not cover the working groups of parliament, government or provincial unions. One of the reasons for this limited application is the Finnish electoral system, which is based on a personal ballot. This means that, while the number of women nominated on party lists is critical, the gender quotas are difficult to use and have less of an effect than list ballots.  

50.               Italy passed a law in 1993 requiring parties to use the zipping system for elections using list systems, but the Constitutional Court ruled this law unconstitutional in 1995. A Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament has reported on proposals for constitutional reforms in 1997, making recommendations about constitutional change to promote balance between the sexes in elected positions, which could pave the way for a new quota law. This report has not been implemented.

b.         Party-level quotas

51.                It is now quite common for parties in Europe, especially green parties and those of the left, to adopt some form of quotas policy (Squires, Judith and Mark Wickham-Jones. Women in parliament: a comparative analysis. London, Equal Opportunities Commission, 2001). By 2001, of the 76 parties in European Union states, 35 (46%) used quotas. 35 of these parties had achieved levels of women’s representation above 24%, and of these, 24 (69%) had a quota policy in place. Women’s representation remains below 10% in 17 of the parties, of which only one had a quota policy in place (Russell M. Women’s representation in UK politics: what can be done within the law? London, The Constitution Unit, 2000, p.15-16).

52.                Although formal gender quotas have been used widely in Denmark and Norway, they have had only limited application in Finland and Sweden. In Sweden parties adopted quotas in the 1990s (except the Green Party who had adopted them in the 1980s), having practised the principle of Varannan Damernas—Every Other Seat a Woman’s Seat—since the 1980s. There is opposition within Swedish parties to the idea of formalising gender quotas. In Sweden and Finland the norm of effecting a high level of women’s representation has become embedded without legalised or party-institutionalised means. This may be an outcome of relatively homogeneous societies shaping institutional arrangements.

53.                Several of the major political parties in Germany now implement both party and candidate quotas. The Greens and the PDS have strict 50% quotas combined with a zipper system. The Social Democrats set a quota of one third for election lists, parliamentary mandates and public offices in 1994 and increased this to 40% in 1998. The CDU in 1996 introduced quotas of 30% female representation in both party functions and election lists. Since the adoption of party-level quotas in Germany there has been a sharp rise in women’s representation in the Bundestag.

54.                In Spain quotas were first introduced by PSOE in 1988 when party quotas were set at 25%. Candidate quotas have since been adopted by PSOE and Partido Popular, and have had a significant impact on the number of women elected to the parliament. Women used to be placed towards the bottom of electoral lists (Valiente, C. An overview of the state of research on women and politics in Spain, European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 33 (4) 1998, pp. 459-473). At the first elections following the introduction of quotas there was an 89% increase in the number of women elected to the national parliament. (Threfall, M. Feminist politics and social change in Spain, in Threlfall, M. Mapping the women’s movement. London, Verso, 1996, p.143). Most recently, the new Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has put his commitment to gender equality into practice and has nominated a parity government, which was sworn in on 18 April 2004 – creating the second gender balanced government in Europe (the other being in Sweden).

55.                Valiente (op. cit.) argues that although at first only leftwing parties introduced quotas, such arrangements influenced other parties, under pressure to match such achievements. In Spain and Germany conservative parties have taken up quotas following their introduction by parties of the left.

c.         Constitutional and legal provisions

56.               In Sweden there is a constitutional right to equality, but the sex equality clause in the constitution explicitly allows for positive action, if part of a strategy to achieve equality between men and women. According to the preparatory materials (to which courts can refer in its interpretation), the exception for positive discrimination is intended to provide for certain kinds of “counter-discrimination”, such as the use of quotas in admission for training and education. Political parties are classified as non-profit making organisations, which are regulated only by their internal rules, and by the limited indirect effect of the constitution. The Election Act regulates the holding of elections, but does not regulate the internal structures or candidate selection procedures of political parties. The political parties are thus free to choose whether their internal regulations should permit or encourage the use of positive action. Parliamentary elections are based on party lists in 29 multi-member constituencies (each with between 2 and 34 seats), with voters able to choose either an entire party list as laid out by the party or an individual candidate from that list. This allows the possibility of alternating male and female candidates’ names on the lists.

57.                The practice of positive action was introduced by the Social Democratic Party before the national election of 1994, when a female network called “Support-stockings” threatened to start a women’s party if the parties did not step up their efforts to increase the numbers of women in elected office. The result was that in the next election the proportion of women in the Swedish parliament increased to the world record of 44%. Now both the Social Democrats and the Vansterpartiet practice alternating men and women on lists. The liberal, right-wing and green parties do not use formal positive action, although women’s representation stands at 30% or above in all the political groups in parliament. There has never been any suggestion that the instances of positive action might be in breach of the law and, given the constitutional underpinning of positive action, it is difficult to see how such a case might be constructed.

58.                The electoral system for the Norwegian Parliament is similar to that for the Swedish Rikstag. There are 19 counties in Norway, each of which constitutes a multi-member constituency. The political parties are regulated by electoral law derived from the Election Act and the Constitution. As in Sweden, control over selection of candidates for elected office is left to the parties’ own internal rules. Most parties have rules requiring that there shall be at least 40% of each sex represented on their electoral lists, and the farthest left party, Rod Valgallianse, demands that 50% women be nominated to lists. Only the furthest right party, the Progressive Party, has no rule for positive action, and has the lowest representation of women in parliament. The representation of women in parliament falls somewhat below the 40 per cent target because parties do not consistently place women at every second place on the list, and the most secure places at the top of lists tend to be taken by men.

59.                There have been no cases where candidate selection by political parties has been legally challenged on the basis of sex discrimination. The fact that they consistently select such high numbers of women is seen as a response to voter demand.

60.                The main source of equality law in Germany is Article 3 of the main constitutional document, the Basic Law, which states 1. All people are equal before the law. 2. Men and women have equal rights. The state shall seek to ensure equal treatment of men and women and to remove existing disadvantages. 3. Nobody shall be prejudiced or favoured because of their sex….Unusually for a constitution the Basic Law recognises and regulates political parties. Article 21(1) guarantees party freedom, but requires the parties to organise themselves on democratic principles. So long as it organises democratically, a party’s right to determine its candidate selection is seen as constitutionally guaranteed.

61.                The Bundestag is elected using an additional member system, with half the seats elected on a single member constituency basis and the other half from party lists, providing proportional representation. Most parties are convinced of the necessity of positive action. Since election law does not regulate the use of positive action, party statutes can govern any such action. The Greens introduced a “women-statute” in 1986 stating that the party would alternate female and male candidates on all election lists. Other parties followed with quotas of 30, 40 or 50%. The only party that does not use a positive action system is the Liberals (FDP).

62.                These quotas apply only in relation to party lists, not to selection for constituencies. The total proportion of women in parliament thus falls short of the parties’ targets in part because some parties win many of their seats in the constituencies.

63.                The constitutionality of positive action by parties has caused controversy since the measures were first adopted in the late 1980s. The arguments over whether quotas are in line with constitutional law primarily concern the interaction of Articles 21 and 38 concerning party freedom. These Articles have been cited by opponents of positive action as requiring a gender-neutral selection process, with quotas seen as interfering with free democratic choice. In practice, the constitutionality of quotas has generally been assessed in terms of their conformity with international human rights obligations, and they are not seen as in breach of constitutional law if they are “proportionate” and time limited, in accordance with CEDAW. Parties have applied time limits to their quota systems, the CDU’s limit being 2003 and the SPD’s 2012/3. There have been no challenges to positive action, beyond internal party disputes and legal commentary. At present, there is widespread agreement that they are compatible with the provisions of the Basic Law and with international human rights norms.

64.               France’s low representation of women in parliament (now 12.3%) is influenced by the use of a single member constituency system similar to that of the UK, with choices of individual candidates taken by each local party. Another similarity between these countries is that the use of positive action by political parties has caused legal controversy. Such action was blocked in France until legislative and constitutional changes were made by the centre-left Jospin government. Several Electoral Bills introducing positive action were found by the Conseil Constitutionnel to be unconstitutional. Article 3 of the 1958 Constitution stated that suffrage “shall always be universal, equal and secret”. The Conseil concluded that legislation “making a distinction between candidates because of their sex was against constitutional principles”. The only option to change the situation was a constitutional amendment, effected in 1999. An additional clause was added to Article 3, stating that: ”Statutes shall promote equal access by women and men to elective offices and positions.” A new clause was added to Article 4 of the Constitution, which deals with political parties. This article now states “Political parties and groups shall contribute to the exercise of suffrage…..They contribute to the implementation of the principle set out in the last paragraph of article 3 as provided by statute.”. After this change, electoral law could be introduced to enforce positive action for women in politics, which became law in May 2000. This provides for two kinds of measures, applying to elections using lists and elections in single member constituencies respectively. Its application began with the local elections in 2001 and continued with the parliamentary elections of 2002, the level of success diverging widely in the two cases.

65.               For elections using proportional lists, the law requires precise equality between men and women candidates. This resulted in dramatic changes in the March 2001 local elections. The proportion of women local councillors in towns over 3,500 inhabitants leaped from 22% to 48%.

66.                For elections in single member constituencies, the law sought to encourage equality by indirect means. State funding supports political parties with an amount of money corresponding to the number of votes they win in elections. The new law requires that a party’s funding is cut if fewer than 49% of their candidates are women (or men). The amounts of money are large, as the state funding amounts to approximately € 79 million. The parties faced great difficulties conforming to the new requirements, given the number of incumbent male parliamentarians who would be forced to step aside if sufficient women were to be selected. In the event, parties primarily fielded women in unwinnable seats, and some chose to sacrifice money rather than present balanced numbers of male and female candidates.

67.                The UK has encountered the most recent legal difficulties in this area. A successful quota system adopted by the Labour Party was ruled unlawful under sex discrimination law by an Employment Tribunal in 1996. The Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act was passed in February 2002 in response to the issues raised by this case and is designed to permit parties, if they so choose, to take positive action in favour of women. The Act has a ‘sunset clause’ so that the provisions expire at the end of 2015, unless an order, approved by parliament, is made to the contrary. This is to meet the requirements of international human rights law, in particular, CEDAW, discussed below. This should allow for at least 3 elections to have taken place in each body to which the legislation applies.

68.                A key element of the Act is its permissive nature: it allows parties to take positive action, but does not oblige them to do so, unlike the French legislation. The UK has no written constitution, no legally enforceable constitutional guarantee of equality, and no constitutional or statutory provisions governing the selection procedures of political parties. The traditional view of political parties is that they are treated as private associations that put forward individuals to stand for public office, rather than as bodies performing a public function. Their activities are subject only to self-regulation, private law and the basic requirements of natural justice imposed on non-incorporated associations.

69.                The system of all-women shortlists was ended before the 1997 election when a pair of male members of the Labour Party challenged it before an Industrial Tribunal on the basis that the policy constituted unlawful discrimination contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. (SDA). They argued that candidate selection by political parties was subject to the part of the SDA which applies to ‘employment’ and in particular was covered by the section which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex in employment, including access to employment. The tribunal found, in the Jepson case, that Labour’s all-women shortlists constituted unlawful discrimination.

70.                The Labour Party attempted to devise a procedure which would avoid the legal problems of all-women shortlists. The system chosen was ‘twinning’, whereby pairs of neighbouring constituencies selected their candidates together, and were required to select one woman and one man. This policy achieved the same outcome as all-women shortlists, by requiring constituency parties in half the available
seats to select a woman. Men were not excluded, as every paired selection was open to both women and men. The system was difficult to contest, though legally uncertain in the wake of the Jepson case. The result of the elections were Labour groups containing 54% women in Wales (contributing to parity of women and men in the Assembly) and 50% in Scotland.

71.               It is interesting to note that Labour Party efforts to be modern and representative do not go unnoticed by the electorate. In 1992, Labour was 3 points ahead of the Conservatives among 15 to 24-year-old women. Now it has a 43 point lead among this group. Female voters make up 52% of the population and are more likely to turn out to vote. (Turquet, Laura et al. Women Voters and the Conservative Party 2003. London, Fawcett Society, 2003). The Liberal Democrats constructed a selection system for the European elections of 1999 (run under a proportional list system) whereby the lists of candidates placed men and women in alternate positions. This too was threatened with legal challenge which did not materialise, and the party elected 5 male and 5 female MEPs.

72.                The above discussion shows that there is no general pattern in Europe, except that  few European countries have introduced legal quota systems. However, Western Europe and Eastern Europe are diverging, in that party quotas are becoming more widespread in Western Europe but are not in use in Eastern and Central Europe and Russia. Several of these countries are ranked among the lowest in Europe for women’s representation. Quotas are unpopular, even among women, because they remind people of what is perceived as the “forced emancipation” of the Soviet rule.

73.                The experience of older democracies suggests that, without positive measures, improved representation of women in decision-making takes many decades. It took approximately 60 years for Denmark, Norway and Sweden to exceed the 20% threshold, and 70 years to reach 30 percent. (Dahlerup, Drude and Lenita Freidenwall, op. cit.). Today, such a long wait to rectify a democratic deficit would be considered unacceptable.

d.         Comparative conclusion

74.                Improvements in women’s representation might occur by means other than quotas and they do not always result in increased women’s representation. However, if properly implemented and supported by an interested women’s movement, electoral gender quotas represent one of the most efficient measures for increasing women’s representation in political institutions. There is no international concept of quotas as they are met with different electoral concepts in individual countries.

75.               In some European countries legislative provisions were introduced to promote positive actions to increase women’s presence in parliaments and governmental bodies. Governments can also support financially those political parties which apply measures to increase the proportion of women on their electoral lists. 

76.               Clear rules for candidate recruitment introduced within parties are beneficial for women, as women can develop strategies to improve representation. In cases when parties argue that they do not possess enough qualified women, non-governmental organisations, and political as well as professional groups of women can play their role in identifying and promoting those women who are interested in becoming a candidate. Women should also be organised inside the political parties in order to lobby for their interests and to improve their representation.

77.               The List PR systems used, for example, in Norway, Sweden and Belgium are very amenable to the use of positive action for improving the numbers of women elected, but only if the parties winning seats from lists place women in electable positions, for example, through the use of ‘zipping’. There are three factors that facilitate women’s representation in PR systems:

  • higher district magnitude (when parties can compete for and win several seats, allowing them to go further down the party lists, where women are usually listed);

  • high electoral thresholds (which discourage the existence of small parties, which in turn give less chance to women to be elected);

  • closed party lists (when parties determine the rank ordering of candidates and thus women’s names cannot be demoted – provided, of course, they are put high on the list in the first place!).

78.               Usually, women tend to win more seats in urban areas, where non-traditional roles for women are more common and where women have much more access to resources for their election campaigns. Therefore, women should pay special attention to the process of the determination of the number of seats in each voting district. The distribution of seats per district should be as close as possible to the “one person/one vote” principle.

79.               Without basic measures such as individual voting and the secret ballot it would be difficult for women to register their real preferences and thence to achieve the critical mass of women’s representation needed to foster a new culture. There is no substitute for raising awareness, increasing political education, mobilizing citizens and removing procedural obstacles to women voting freely, being nominated and elected.

E.         The role of the media in promoting women’s participation

80.               The role of the mass media during the election campaign is to ensure that the population is well informed on the variety of candidates and parties, so that everybody can make his or her own informed choice. The success of an election campaign largely depends on parties’ and candidates’ access to the media. In most European countries broadcasting time is allocated to political parties and to party leaders; and since there are very few parties with women leaders, they have limited access to the mass media during election campaigns. Women also have less financial resources to be invested in the media coverage of their political programmes.  

81.               The gender dimension should be added to the media monitoring reports during elections, paying a particular attention to the coverage of women candidates and gender-related issues. Women candidates often receive less coverage than men and the media pays more attention to their personal characteristics and appearance than to their political positions. It is very important to draw attention to the elimination of the use of stereotypes by the media, which can hamper women’s advancement in the political process. The media should present women in the same manner as men.

82.               To give unbiased coverage of women’s participation in elections, journalists might need some training. Very positive results in this respect have been achieved by the Georgian non-governmental association of journalists “Gender Media Caucasus”. With the financial assistance of the UNDP this organisation has prepared a number of seminars, during which journalists who are working on gender issues learn (in close co-operation with NGOs) how to plan and implement media campaigns in support of women during election periods.

83.               The mass-media is one of the instruments available to educate and mobilise voters, particularly in rural areas, where women experience difficulties in reaching these voters. Special programmes on voter education should be directed at women.

F.         Election observation

84.               International observation missions have become a part of the democratisation aid offered to many European countries. Election observations missions serve, on the one hand, to control elections by monitoring and critically assessing their preparation and implementation and, on the other hand, to demonstrate the international community’s interest in a country’s democratic development.  Therefore, it is very important to ensure the respect of the gender dimension in the process of election observation and in the composition of election observation missions.

85.               Gender balance is very important on an observation team, but, unfortunately, there is no such requirement for the composition of international election observation teams.

86.               The evaluation of the gender perspective of elections has not yet been introduced into election observation reports. The Gender Task Force Election Observation Report on the Parliamentary Elections in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in September 2002 elaborated by the Stability Pact for South East Europe Gender Task Force Regional Centre for Gender Equality could be taken as a positive example of how gender issues should be reflected in election observation reports (http://www.stabilitypact.org/gender/election-observation.doc). The OSCE/ODIHR is currently working on the elaboration of a handbook on monitoring women’s participation in elections. The adoption of this document will be a huge step forward in including the gender dimension in standard operating procedure for all observation missions. All above mentioned areas which have an impact on women’s participation in elections will be added to the main elements of election observation: cultural and societal barriers to women’s full participation, legal framework, election system, the role of political parties, the role of the media.

87.               In performing their duties, the observers should look at women’s participation as voters, candidates and elected representatives, the participation of women in decision-making positions within the state institutions, electoral commissions and political parties. The reports on election observation can make recommendations to governments on how to create the necessary conditions for more equal participation of women in elections. 

G.         Recommendations

88.               The Assembly should call upon governments to change any legislation that still impedes women from equal participation in elections and to undertake awareness-raising measures in order to bring about a lasting change of attitudes and traditions to ensure the full participation of women in elections at all levels and in all respects.

89.               “Family voting” is an undemocratic practice which disenfranchises women voters and should not be tolerated. It is important to enforce existing the electoral laws in member states to stamp out this practice. In addition, a provision introducing sanctions against electoral commissions’ officials in polling stations where family voting is detected could be introduced, and voting results in such polling stations invalidated. Electoral commissions’ officials should be trained in the conduct of democratic polling, with particular attention paid to the prevention of family voting. Awareness-raising campaigns should be organised during the pre-election periods accentuating that family voting is a strong violation of electoral rights.

90.               Ballot papers should be sensitive to voters’ needs (including for example dual-language ballot papers, party symbols, photos) to enable sub-literate voters to make an individual decision.

91.               Countries without a critical minority of women in parliament should examine their legal structures with a view to introducing or upgrading quotas to attain this target. Any constitutional or legal barriers to positive measures should be removed.

92.               Quotas for required numbers of women candidates in a party list should be recommended to all European countries. They should be gender-neutral. Double quota (e.g.zipping) systems are recommended because they ensure that women are sufficiently well placed to be elected. Quotas should be time-limited and proportionate.

93.               Specific training and publicity packages should be developed to encourage women candidates to contest elections.

94.               Women candidates should have equal access to the mass-media. State resources should be available, on a non-partisan basis, to enable women candidates to present their political programmes.

95.               Non-governmental organisations which provide training for women and men on the importance of women’s participation in public life and the exercise of their individual voting rights should be supported by government funding.

96.               The Assembly could ask its leaders of political groups to try and attain gender balance when appointing the representatives of their groups to election observation missions.

97.               The Assembly could also recommend to the Venice Commission to pay special attention to the protection of women’s individual voting rights when providing expertise on election legislation and its implementation.

98.               The Council of Europe should consider drawing up a “Charter for Electoral Equality” in which States subscribe to concerted action to improve the electoral participation of women. The key objective would increase the representation of women in parliament and elected assemblies to parity, or at least a critical minority. The target could be to improve the present average of Council of Europe countries from 18.4% to 40% by an agreed year, say 2020, and remove any barriers faced by women to the exercise of their franchise. This wouldgive effect to the declaration agreed at the 4th European Ministerial Conference on Equality between Women and Men (Istanbul 1997), especially to the commitment to ‘ensure that the realisation of equality between women and men is a part of the monitoring of member States’ fulfilment of their democratic obligations’.


Reporting committee: Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men

Reference to Committee: Doc 9629, reference N° 2789 of 27 January 2003

Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the Committee on 24 May 2004.

Members of the Committee: Mrs Cliveti (Chairperson), Mrs Zapfl-Helbling (1st Vice-Chairperson), Mr Dalgaard (2nd Vice-Chairperson), Mrs Curdova (3rd Vice-Chairperson), Mrs Aguiar, Mr Baburin (alternate: Mr Rudkovsky), Mrs Bauer, Mrs Biga-Friganovic, Mrs Bilgehan, Mrs Bousakla, Mrs Castro, Mrs Doktorowicz, Mrs Err, Mr Foulkes, Mr Gaburro, Mr Goldberg, Ms Hadjiyeva, Mrs Hägg, Mr Juri, Mrs Katseli (alternate: Mrs Damanaki), Mrs Konglevoll (alternate: Mrs Ringstad), Mrs Kosa-Kovacs, Mrs Kryemadhi, Mrs Lintonen, Mr Mahmood, Mrs Mikutiene, Mr Mooney, Mrs Morganti, Mrs Naghdalyan, Mr Neimarlija, Mrs Oskina, Mrs Paoletti Tangheroni (alternate: Mr Scherini), Mrs Patarkalishvili, Ms Patereu, Mr Pavlov (alternate: Mrs Stantcheva), Mrs Pericleous-Papadopoulos, Mrs Petrova-Mitevska, Mr Pintat (alternate: Mr Branger), Mr Platvoet, Mr Pullicino Orlando, Mrs Roth, Mrs Rupprecht, Mrs Schicker (alternate: Mrs Wurm), Mr Skarphédinsson, Mrs Smirnova.

N.B. The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries of the Committee: Mrs Kleinsorge, Mrs Entzminger


[1] See document AS/Ega (2003) 46