Despite numerous measures designed to encourage the participation of women in local and regional political life, they are still under-represented in many countries. A debate on Thursday 19 October in the Chamber of Regions examined ways of improving the representation of women in the member States' local and regional assemblies. For its part, the Congress has introduced strict rules on gender balance in its structures. "A society is only truly democratic if its entire population is properly represented in its political life" said the President of the Chamber of Regions, Gunn Marit HELGESEN (Norway, EPP/CCE), who also reiterated that "the whole of society would benefit from more women participating in political and also economic life". The Italian MP and Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Elena CENTEMERO presented an overview of the situation in the member States: in only two of them was the proportion of women in parliament at least 40%, while the average for Europe was a good deal lower, at 25%. Simone SUSSKIND, member of the Bruxelles-Capitale Regional parliament and president of the "Actions in the Mediterranean" association, then presented an original initiative by female members of the Brussels parliament for Tunisia, encouraging women to become involved in local political life. The parliamentarians had assisted with the training of 60 candidates for local elections and helped them to campaign and assert themselves as leaders.
Mediabox interview with Simone SUSSKIND