“Women's political participation is a key element for advancing women's rights and combating violence against women. For things to change, women must talk from positions of power,” stressed Jelena Drenjanin (Sweden, EPP/CCE), Congress Spokesperson for Gender Equality, at the webinar on "Intersectional solutions to eliminate violence against women and girls in rural areas", organised on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women on 15 October 2020.
The spokesperson called for the removal of the obstacles that women face in achieving balanced representation. She referred, in particular, to the application of quotas. This solution has proved effective in the municipal councils of those Council of Europe member states that have adopted it. Within the Congress itself, the quota system has led to more than 40% women in national delegations.
However, Ms. Drenjanin underlined that legal changes alone are not enough to create the right conditions for women’s participation. “We need to fight against a culture of sexism and sexist violence that keep women out of politics. In addition to these obstacles, women in rural areas face specific difficulties such as problems of access, lack of funds and limited infrastructure," she said, stressing at the same time that there is no single template for all rural areas.
The obstacles to women’s participation can be overcome through measures such as providing funds for training women who wish to be candidates for local government, providing family-friendly meeting conditions or through the creation of networks of women mayors and councillors. Ms. Drenjanin pointed to the need to increase women's visibility in public life and on electoral lists because examples are stronger than words. “The presence of women in local government would contribute not only to improving gender equality in general but also to the development of rural areas," she concluded.
The event is part of the series of webinars “A thousand ways to solve our problems: Preventing and responding to violence against women from an intersectional perspective,” co-convened by the European Union, the Council of Europe and UN Women.