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Women and men in decision-making: highlights (third quarter 2010)

23/08/2010 Women and men in decision-making: highlights (third quarter 2010)

An update of the European Commission's database on women and men in decision-making has recently been completed and includes:

  • A quarterly update of data on political decision-making at European and national level and also at regional level for those regions where there have been elections. Data were collected in the first three weeks of July 2010 and reflect changes since the last update in mid-May.
  • An annual update of information on key decision-makers in the following types of organisation: Central banks, Supreme audit organisations, Courts (supreme courts, administrative courts, constitutional courts, public prosecutors, European courts), European administration (European community agencies, European committees, EU institutions), European financial institutions, European NGOs. Data were collected at various times between May and July.

In the political arena, selected developments in terms of the gender balance include:

  • Parliamentary elections held in the Czech Republic at the end of May resulted in a record number of women in the Chamber of Deputies (44 out of a total of 200 members, or 22% up from 18%). Moreover, at the end of June, Miroslava Nemcova became the first woman Speaker of the house. The positive result for women in the parliament was not, however, reflected in the composition of the government and the new cabinet led by Prime Minister Petr Nečas is exclusively male whereas women accounted for almost a quarter of the outgoing one.
  • A number of other national elections resulted in only small changes to the gender balance amongst elected members. In Belgium there was a small increase in the share of women in the Chamber of Representatives (40% from 38%) but a small decline in the Senate (38% from 41%). There were also small reductions in the share of women members following June elections in the Netherlands (41% from 42%) and Slovakia (16% from 18%). In the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), Ms Gerdi Verbeet was re-elected president on the 22th June.
  • Following the formation of new governments in Finland and Slovakia there are now three EU countries in which the government is led by women compared to one (Germany) in the previous quarter. In Finland, Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi’s team of twenty ministers includes eleven women (55%), one less than in the previous government. In Slovakia, Iveta Radičova was sworn into office as Slovakia’s first woman Prime Minister on 8 July 2010 but has just one female colleague in her fourteen-strong government (14% women, 86% men).
  • Presidential elections took place in Hungary, Germany, and Poland during June-July 2010. Men were elected in all three cases and Pál Schmitt, Christian Wulff and Bronisław Komorowski have all now taken office as the Head of State of their respective countries.
  • Just two regional elections were held during the quarter, in Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany) and Burgenland (Austria). The regional council of Nordrhein-Westfalen is now chaired by a man (instead of a woman before) and the assembly comprises 73% men and 27% women. In Burgenland the election on the 30th May resulted in a small decline in the share of women in the regional assembly (19% from 22%) and leader of the assembly is still male.

Selected developments in other areas include:

  • The governor of all 27 EU central banks remain male and the gender balance amongst the members of key decision-making bodies within central banks also remains unchanged at 82% men and 18% women. There have, however, been isolated improvements in the representation of women during 2010. In the National Bank of Poland, the combined membership of the Monetary Policy Committee and the Management Board now includes four women (24%) compared to just one (6%) in 2009 and the governing board of the Bank of Slovenia now includes one woman amongst its five members where there was none previously.
  • Over the last year there have been few changes in the gender balance at the highest levels of the judiciary:
    • Amongst the courts of the EU the only change in the relative numbers of men and women judges was the replacement of one man with a woman at the European Court of Justice so that the overall representation of women has just edged above one in five (21% compared to 19% in 2009). The balance remains better in the European Court of Human rights, which has jurisdiction over the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, where more than a third (37%) of the judges are women.
    • At national level, changes in the leadership of supreme courts in Sweden and Slovenia mean that most senior judge is female in seven EU Member States compared to five in 2009, those countries being the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Austria, Romania and Finland. Elsewhere, a recent appointment in Iceland means that together with Serbia there are now two further European countries where a woman presides over the supreme court. Across the EU there has been little change in the gender balance amongst supreme court judges with the share of women edging up to 32% from 31%.