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Women and men in decision-making highlights

Second quarter 2015

The latest update of the European Commission's database on women and men in decision-making was completed in May 2015. The update includes:

  • a quarterly update of data on political decision-making at European and national levels;
  • an update of data on regional level politics where there have been recent elections;
  • an annual update of data on leaders of major political parties; and
  • a biennial update of data on local/municipal councils.

Data were collected between 23 April and 16 May 2015 and reflect changes since the last update in February 2015.

Since February 2015, the database has been extended to include Montenegro, so that it now covers a total of 35 countries. Data for Montenegro will be added progressively with each round of data collection. All tables of data on political decision-making now include Montenegro, though there are no data for Montenegro at the regional level because there are no relevant regional authorities (endowed with self-government and acting between the national and local level).

National parliaments

  • Parliamentary elections were held in three EU Member states between the end of February and mid-May 2015. The gender balance amongst the elected representatives was unchanged in Finland (42% women, 58% men) but the share of women increased in Estonia (+4 pp to 24%) and in the UK (+6 pp to 29%).
  • The latter changes contributed to a slight improvement in the gender balance in national parliaments (single/lower house) across the EU with the proportion reaching 29%, the highest figure recorded since data were first collected for all Member States (except Croatia) in 2004.
  • The share of women representatives in the upper house of national parliaments (which exist in 13 of the 28 EU Member States) remains unchanged at 26%.

National governments

  • At EU level, women account for 27% of members of national governments, down from 28% in the first quarter of the year but still within the narrow band of 26-28% within which the share has fluctuated since the end of 2012.
  • New governments were appointed in Estonia and the UK following parliamentary elections, but with quite different results in terms of gender balance. In the UK the proportion of women amongst senior ministers (those with a seat on the cabinet) increased from 23% to 32% whilst in Estonia it fell sharply from 43% to 13%. At the date of data collection, the new Finnish government had not yet been appointed.
  • Elsewhere, government reshuffles in the last quarter resulted in increased representation of  women in the cabinet of Slovenia (from 41% to 47%) but decreases in France (by 2 pp to 45%),  Croatia (by 5 pp to 14%), and the Czech Republic (by 6 pp to 12%).

 Regions

  • At EU level, the proportion of women amongst members of regional assemblies remains unchanged at32%, but there has been a slight improvement in regional executives since February 2015, as women now represent 35% of the members of regional executives (+ 1 pp).
  • In the Netherlands regional elections resulted in small increases in the proportion of women members of regional executives (+1 pp to 26%) and of regional assemblies (+4 pp to 34%).
  • There were few other regional elections during the period. In Hamburg (Germany), share of women fell in both the regional executive (by 12 pp to 33%) and the regional assembly (by 2 pp to 39%).  In Spain, Andalucía remains one of the most gender balanced regions in the country, with 55% and of women in the regional executive (+ 5pp), and 50% in the regional assembly (down by 1 pp). In Madeira (Portugal) the gender balance in the regional executive has improved following the elections as women now comprise 22% of members (up from 14%).

Major political parties

  • Major political parties are defined as parties with at least 5% of seats in the national parliament (either of the upper or lower houses in case of a bicameral system). In the EU as a whole, the proportion of women in leadership positions has declined compared to 2014. Women now account for 17% of party leaders (down by 4 pp) and 32% of deputy leaders (down by 1 pp).

Local/municipal councils

  • Data on local/municipal councils are collected every two years and cover mayors or other leaders of the municipal council and members of the municipal council or equivalent bodies. At EU level, between 2013 and 2015 the proportion of female mayors increased from 14% to 15% and the share of female local/municipal councillors increased from 32% to 36%. The improvement at EU level can be at least in part attributed to increased representation of women in Estonia, Italy, Sweden and France.
  • The EU figures are significantly influenced by France, which contributes more than half the total number of council leaders and members due to the large number of communes (more than 36,000). Excluding France, where the gender balance is better than average, the EU figure for mayors/council leaders is reduced slightly to 14% (13% in 2013) and that for council members more significantly to 29% (27% in 2013).

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