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Gender imbalance and positive discrimination

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Gender imbalance and positive discrimination
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Should there be positive discrimination to correct the under representation of women in politics? Yesterday, the Council of Europe Parliamentary assembly said that answer should be yes. It recommended the EU’s member states take such a course following proposals put forward by luxembourgoise socialist assembly member Lydie Err. She argues that quotas on electoral lists should be enforced to achieve political parity between men and women. The under-representation of women in parliament’s across the world is still a big problem.

In 1975, just over 10 percent of parliamentarians in the world were women. By 2010 that figure had risen to 18 percent. An extremely modest increase of 7% in 35 years, meaning at such a rate parity between men and women will take another 160 years.

For Lydie Err, only legal quotas on all electoral lists could close the gap, especially in systems that use proportional representation.

‘‘We’re not asking people to like these quotas, we’re asking them to be put in place to achieve a necessary result. If they have a better idea, we will take it. Would political willingness be enough without quotas. The fact is this is not the case,’‘ Err said.

According to Err, the existing law in Belgium, is already well adapted to enable a progressive increase in female candidates . But, multi-office holding remains a problem.

‘‘Women are as well and sometimes better educated than men, but the political system is locked and blocked by men. As there is multi-office holding, the temptation is that this stays the same way forever. Non-multi office holding would allow more women political responsibility,’‘ Err added.

Lydie Err believes the solution also lies with political parties themselves, saying they hold the key to opening the door for more female representation in political life.