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.
Introduced in 2008, in accordance with the Congress Charter, the participation of a minimum of 30% of the under-represented sex in national delegations has been ensured since 2011 as a precondition for the approval of the credentials of a delegation.
- Between 1994 and 2014, 72.93% (132) of the posts of President and Vice-President were held by men and 27.02% (49) were held by elected women;
- For the first time in 2010, the Vice-presidents of the Congress were in equal numbers. Today (mandate 2016-2020), women constitute 59% (10 out of 17 members) of the executive of the Congress (Bureau);
- For the first time in 2016, a woman was elected President of the Congress.
- During 2006-2008, the Congress was actively involved in the “Stop domestic violence against women” campaign, and launched in particular a poster campaign in streets and subways of many European cities with the slogan “Chttps://rm.coe.int/fighting-sexist-violence-against-women-in-politics-at-local-and-region/1680a061c3ities and regions take a stand”.
- In co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress organised a photo exhibition entitled “Break the silence on domestic violence“, inaugurated in 2008 and conducted in several cities.
- In 2009, the Congress adopted Resolution 279 and Recommendation 260 on combating domestic violence against women and called for the development of strategies and measures at local level, to prevent and combat violence against women.
- In 2020, the Congress adopted Resolution 459 and Recommendation 449 on fighting sexist violence against women in politics called on local and regional elected representatives to position themselves as political leaders against sexist discourse and violence.
How to increase the participation of women in political life at regional level ?
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In the Resolution 404 (2016), the Congress stresses the importance of adopting and implementing the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life, launched by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) in 2006, as a sound step towards gender equality, gender mainstreaming and the promotion of equal opportunities for women and men in local political and public life.