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Texts adopted
Thursday, 18 January 2001 - Strasbourg OJ edition
Balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process

European Parliament resolution on the Commission report on the implementation of Council Recommendation 96/694 of 2 December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process (COM(2000) 120 - C5-0210/2000 - 2000/2117(COS) )

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Commission report (COM(2000) 120 - C5-0210/2000 ),

-  having regard to Council Recommendation 96/694/EC,

-  having regard to Articles 2, 3(2), 13, 137(1) and 141(4) of the EC Treaty,

-  having regard to its resolutions based on reports from the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities since 1984 and especially its resolution of 2 March 2000(1) on women in decision-making,

-  having regard to the final declaration of the UN Conference in Mexico in 1975,

-  having regard to the Vienna Conference on human rights and the Platform for Action following the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing on 15 September 1995,

-  having regard to the Council Resolution of 27 March 1995(2) on balanced participation of women and men in decision-making,

-  having regard to the ministerial declaration of 17 April 1999 in Paris on women and men in power,

-  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 1994(3) and its opinion of 24 May 1996(4) on women's representation in decision-making based on reports from its Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities,

-  having regard to the work done by the European Network "Women in Decision-Making” during the years 1992-1996,

-  having regard to the European Third and Fourth Action Programmes (1991-2000) for equal opportunities between men and women,

-  having regard to the final document of the UN Conference "Beijing + 5" in New York, June 2000,

-  having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

-  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities (A5-0373/2000 ),

A.  whereas women's rights are an integral part of human rights,

B.  whereas women make up at least half of the electorate in almost all countries and have attained the right to vote and hold office in almost all UN Member States, but continue to be seriously under-represented as candidates for public office,

C.  whereas it is important not only to increase women's participation in decision-making processes but also to widen their role in society,

D.  whereas women must cope with the dual burden of, on the one hand, attending to their family tasks and responsibilities and, on the other, of pursuing their professional careers,

E.  whereas inequality between women and men, and the prevailing gender roles are rooted in obsolete structures and traditional attitudes,

F.  whereas it is admitted that the under-representation of women in decision-making bodies represents an important obstacle to the democratic development of the European Union, to its cohesion and globally to its competitiveness,

G.  whereas the proportion of women in decision-making positions within European industry and the trade union movement is alarmingly low, which undoubtedly contributes towards inequality on the employment market,

H.  whereas the need to promote women's participation in the decision-making process as a condition for democracy has been fully recognised both at national and European level,

I.  whereas public and private institutions should set realistic targets for correcting gender imbalances, and support equality of opportunities for men and women,

J.  whereas this inequality and discrimination both in politics and in the public and private institutions persists, despite the numerous political statements, declarations and commitments made at national, European and international level,

K.  whereas the Amsterdam Treaty provided the legal basis and allows for positive actions and horizontal gender-mainstreaming measures in order to continue the fight against inequalities in all policy fields,

L.  whereas women's salaries continue to be lower than men's for work of equal value,

M.  whereas women's representation in elected political assemblies has proved to be positively influenced by the electoral system of proportional representation as compared to the majority system,

N.  whereas, at European level, the balanced participation of women and men in positions of power and centres of decision-making is regarded as a matter of democratic principle and is included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights,

O.  whereas the representation of women in the political sphere has progressed modestly since the 1999 European elections; whereas, however, women are still under-represented in both the administrative and the political decision-making spheres of the EU institutions,

P.  whereas the example of the European Parliament, where female representation among its Members has increased steadily and, since the last elections, accounts for almost 30%, should be welcomed,

Q.  whereas the full establishment of democracy presupposes collaboration and joint decision-making by the two sexes in all spheres, on an equal and mutually supportive basis,

R.  whereas women's equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for justice or democracy but also a necessary condition for women's interests, gender-specific concerns and experiences to be taken into account,

S.  whereas women could participate more in public life if the burden of work and parental responsibilities were more fairly shared between women and men,

T.  whereas the consideration of women's different set of principles, ideas, values and experience can contribute to redefining political priorities, placing new items on the political agenda and provide new perspectives on mainstream political issues,

1.  Reiterates Council Recommendation 96/694/EC of 2 December 1996 concerning the necessity of establishing integrated action to fight unequal gender-representation in the EU institutions and in every decision-making body, and the invitation to establish an integrated and specific European strategy and common approach to achieve such a result;

2.  Reiterates its abovementioned resolutions of 11 February 1994 and 2 March 2000 and its opinion of 24 May 1996;

3.  Reiterates the need for a comprehensive, integrated EU strategy and positive measures for the promotion of gender-balanced participation in democratic institutions and in all decision-making centres;

4.  Reiterates the need to mobilise all those involved in economic and social life so as to achieve an equal share of responsibility between men and women in the public and private domains and in economic, political and family life;

5.  Reiterates the importance of achieving the goal of equal participation of men and women in the decision-making process so as to strengthen democracy, by taking account of the interests of the whole of society, and promote its proper functioning;

6.  Calls for the promotion and systematic collection and publication of comparable statistics at national and European level and the harmonisation of the Member States' research methods to give a clearer picture of male/female representation in decision-making, since dissemination of these statistics contributes to developing awareness of gender issues and helps progress;

7.  Calls for the promotion of a gender balance in all policy fields and all committees at EU, national and international level, whereby the representation of either gender should not fall below 40%;

8.  Reiterates the importance of tackling gender stereotypes at a very young age, and for both girls and boys to have the opportunity, throughout education, of discussing gender roles; reiterates also the importance of women being trained in leadership and decision-making, public speaking and self-assertion; also stresses the need to undertake awareness campaigns and encourage women's participation in the political arena;

9.  Stresses the need to involve men in working towards greater equality, since equality in decision-making can only be achieved by both sexes cooperating;

10.  Emphasises the need to establish common structures and strategies for enforcing equal opportunities (e.g. Ministry for Equal Opportunities);

11.  Reiterates the importance of there being more women in decision-making positions in companies and trade unions; therefore calls on European industry and the trade union movement to take an active part in supporting women who want to make a career in these fields, and to combat stereotyping at work;

12.  Calls for the creation of a European Network to promote women in decision-making and a network of national committees on equal opportunities;

13.  Calls on the governments, especially those of countries where women's participation in decision-making bodies is lower than 30%, to review the differential impact of electoral systems on the political representation of women in elected bodies and to consider the adjustment or reform of these systems and, if needed, take legislative measures or encourage political parties to introduce quota systems, such as the zipper system, and/or take other measures so as to promote a balance in participation;

14.  Stresses the need to review parties" structures and procedures to remove all barriers that directly or indirectly discriminate against the participation of women;

15.  Recognises that countries with transitional economies and a fledgling democratic culture, such as many of the applicant countries, require particular attention and support owing to the disproportionately negative impact of the transitional process on women's lives;

16.  Calls on the governments and the EU institutions to take due account of gender balance when appointing representatives and setting up international organisations or mediation and negotiating committees, particularly in peace processes or the settlement of conflicts;

17.  Points to the absolute necessity to take appropriate measures to reconcile family and professional life for men and women, through flexible management of working time and improved care provision for children and other dependants;

18.  Calls on both sides of industry to promote the participation of women in their structures and in senior positions of responsibility;

19.  Calls on the Member States to propose at the next IGC amendments to the Treaty which promote gender balance in the EU institutions and all decision-making bodies;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the other EU institutions, and the government and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 346, 4.12.2000, p. 82.
(2) OJ C 168, 4.7.1995, p. 3.
(3) OJ C 61, 28.2.1994, p. 248.
(4) OJ C 166, 10.6.1996, p. 269.

Last updated: 2 June 2004Legal notice