On 20 March 2019, one of the founding members of G5+, Maria Stratigaki, presented G5+’s report “European Parliament’s elections 2019: towards parity democracy in Europe” in Cyprus. The event was organised by the European Parliament’s office in Cyprus and the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies, entitled “Women in European Politics”.

Maria Stratigaki’s presentation was covered by the media, translation into English below.

The rise of extreme right-wing challenge for gender equality, according to research in view of the European elections CNA – Thalia Neophytou – CYPRUS / Nicosia 20/03/2019 15:49

The rise of populism and the extreme right is the biggest challenge for equality issues in view of the forthcoming European Parliament elections, according to a survey of the Gender five plus network, presented by the Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Policy of the Panteion University and Deputy Mayor Of the Municipality of Athens Maria Stratigaki.

During a presentation organized by the European Parliament’s office in Cyprus and the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies, entitled “Women in European Politics” Stratigakis noted that the political identity of the far-right parties is characterized by its anti-feminist and homophobic character.

He also noted that the other challenge is that in recent years there has been little increase in the representation of women in Parliament, as opposed to earlier periods marked by higher increases.

At the same time, he referred to an opportunity created by the rise of populism and the extreme right, the development of equality in the EU and the strengthening of gender balance by reacting to illiberal tendencies. The EU, she said, continues and can strengthen her policy of involving women in decision-making. He also referred to a proposal that, in the upcoming appointments of Commissioners in the EU, a man and a woman are proposed by each Member State so that there is a choice.

It also stressed the need for the EU to move from “equality of rhetoric” and “promotion of equality” to rigorous “guarantees of equality” or “positive actions”.

Referring to the opportunities that have already been encountered, it has also noted the revival of the women’s movement that has been observed lately in several countries on the occasion of the “me too” movement, which has not been said for the last ten years and needs to be exploited.

Based on the survey, women go to the polls in all member states to vote, but where more women vote, the more female representation is in the results.

Ms. Mr Stratigakis also referred to the concept of “parity democracy” which, he said, is more than simply raising women in positions of responsibility but perceives equality of men and women as a fundamental principle of the democratic system. It is also characterized by a change in the way of understanding democracy, political culture and democratic structures.

Equality democracy, he added, faces the EU’s democratic deficit, strengthens diversity, faces the challenge of populism, and has significant strategic benefits for political parties as well. Political equality shows the lowest improvement in Cyprus.

In her own presentation, the Director of the Mediterranean Institute for Social Studies, Sousana Pavlou, referred to conclusions that the Institute has reached from its long-term involvement in the issue of equality.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we can not talk about a tendency to improve balanced participation. Although it may seem that rates are rising slightly, in absolute terms the change is negligible. ”

As explained, according to Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the field of political power shows the lowest improvement from all equality indicators in Cyprus.

“Political power, adopts our speech on the demand for gender equality without being accompanied by concrete and effective actions. This fact weakens the demand and the same women as they make the word empty of content, leading to so-called pink washing. Despite the efforts of organized groups of women, men are keeping their power, “he added.

It is obvious, he said, that in order to change the current situation there should be radical changes in the political system itself. Gender equality leads to economic progress. Referring to an EIGE study, the spokesperson of the European Parliament’s Office in Cyprus, Alexandra Attalidou, said that it demonstrates that gender equality is a force for economic progress. Based on the study, if equality issues are promoted by 2050, this will lead to an increase in European GDP of up to 9.6% or € 3.15 trillion. Presenting the data in the European Parliament, he said Cyprus is in the penultimate position on women’s participation in Eurovoul.

Today, she said, the percentage of women in the European Parliament is 36% compared to 17% in the first direct elections in 1979. Women are also under-represented in decision-making bodies that define politics, the economy and society with the relative index reaching 48.5%.

She also talked about large inequalities in most member states and in Cyprus, which is the fifth since the end in terms of representing women in positions of authority.

As regards the representation of women in the Parliaments of the Member States, the rate is 30.5%, while the rate for female Ministers is 30%. In Cyprus the respective percentages are 17.5% and 18.5%.

She also noted that out of the nine EU Member States that adopted quotas for women’s representation, eight had an increase in the percentage of women in Parliament.

She added that in Cyprus a large percentage of women said they did not have time to deal with politics because they were overloaded with tasks related to family care.

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