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Women and men in decision-making highlights

Fourth quarter 2016

The latest update of the European Commission's database on women and men in decision-making was completed in December 2016 and includes:

  • a quarterly update of data on political decision-making at European and national levels;
  • an annual update of data on politics at regional level, public administration at national level, and environment at national, EU and international levels;
  • a biennial update of data on national social partner organisations.

Data for the 35 countries covered by the database were collected between 01 September and 12 December 2016. Note that figures referring to the share of women or men at EU level are weighted averages based on an aggregate of all persons counted across each of the 28 Member States.

National parliaments

  • The share of women in the single/lower houses of national parliaments across the EU remains unchanged at 29%.
  • Parliamentary elections took place in Croatia (11 September 2016), and Lithuania (9-23 October 2016), with the share of women members falling slightly in both cases to 19% (down 1 percentage point) and 21% (down 3 pp) respectively.
  • In the United Kingdom, Lord Fowler took up office as Lord Speaker (president of the House of Lords) on 1 September 2016 so that when data were collected in October 2016 women led 11 of the 41 (27%) houses of parliament in the EU: 9 of the 28 lower/single houses and 2 of the 13 upper houses.
  • Outside the EU, elections in Iceland (29 October 2016) resulted in near parity with the share of women members of parliament up by 2pp to 48%, while in Montenegro (16 October 2016), women won only 23% of the parliamentary seats (up by 4pp).

National governments

  • Women accounted for 28% of senior ministers (cabinet members) in national governments across the EU, a figure that has barely changed since 2013.
  • The new governments appointed in Lithuania and Croatia both had a slightly better gender balance than before with the share of women amongst senior ministers up by 2 pp to 29% and by 5 pp to 19% respectively.
  • Elsewhere, government reshuffles in the last quarter resulted in some small changes in the representation of women in the cabinet. There were increases of between 2 and 4 percentage points in Spain (27%), Poland (27%), Romania (36%), and Slovenia (47%) but declines of 1-2 pp in France (47%) and the United Kingdom (35%).


  • At EU level, the proportion of women in regional assemblies remains unchanged at 33%, but has improved slightly in regional executives to reach 36% (up by 1pp). Women now lead 21% of regional assemblies and 13% of regional executives (up from 20% and 10%, respectively).
  • Belgium, Spain, France, Finland and Sweden are the only Member States in which the regional assemblies include at least 40% of each gender. However, significant imbalances persist in Hungary (11% women, 89% men), Slovakia (15% vs 85%), Romania (16% vs. 84%) and Italy (18% vs. 82%).

Public administration at national level

  • The proportion of women in senior administrative positions within national ministries increased by 1 percentage point (compared to December 2015) to reach 35% in the top tier (level 1) and 41% in the second tier (level 2).
  • There are seven Member States in which senior administrators comprise at least 40% of each gender at the top level (Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Sweden) and almost half (13 Member States) at the second level.

Environment and climate change

  • The United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC) was held in Marrakech in November 2016. There were no women amongst the 12 members of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties (COP). The EU delegations to the COP and subsidiary bodies included 34% and 37% women respectively, while the overall shares of women in the delegations of Member States to the same bodies were 44% and 48% respectively, even though some of the small delegations from individual countries were not gender balanced.
  • In the European Commission, the share of women holding political and administrative roles in Directorate-Generals (DGs) dealing with issues related to the environment (i.e. Environment, Climate Action, Energy, Mobility and Transport) remains unchanged at 40% for cabinet members but has increased for directors (up from 39% to 41%). The share of women in European Parliament Committees dealing with environmental issues was also up by 2pp to reach 38%.
  • At national level, the proportion of women amongst ministers dealing with environmental issues has decreased (20% of senior ministers and 21% of junior ministers, down by 5pp and 3pp respectively). At the same time, there has been a slight improvement in the gender balance amongst senior administrators in environment-related ministries with women now accounting for 31% of level 1 positions (up by 2 pp since 2015) and 40% of level 2 positions (unchanged).

National social partners

  • Across the EU, women account for 28% of members of the highest decision-making body of national level organisations representing employees (no change since 2014) and just 16% of those representing employers (up by 2pp).
  • Women are strongly under-represented also in the top positions. Employee confederations do better than employer organisations with women accounting for 14% vs 10% of presidents, 27% vs 11% of deputy/vice-presidents, and 23% vs 19% of executive heads.