Don’t you sense a difference of style between men and women in political decision-making? Then again, women are under-represented in both European and national politics. We still have strides to make to achieve gender equality at all levels. Malta is no exception. If anything, public life is even more male-dominated here.
A recently published study (Women in European Politics – time for action) shows that, despite a general increase in the number of women in decision-making positions in Europe, power still lies firmly in the hands of men, whether in politics or business; public or private sphere.
The current European Parliament is composed of 31 per cent women and 69 per cent men. The situation is even worse in national parliaments across the EU, with less than one in four members being a woman. The European Commission is currently its best ever in terms of gender balance - 17 men and 10 women - but some countries have never nominated a female Commissioner. The world of business is even worse: across Europe only 3 per cent of the largest companies are led by a woman!
A recent poll (Flash Eurobarometer) shows that a large majority of women and men agree that men dominate politics and that women can bring a different perspective. Women want to be better represented in the European Parliament.
As EU Commissioner Wallstrom said this week - she is in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy - a strong and representative democracy is based on full inclusion of the people it represents. If women are absent from the negotiating tables, how could we ensure that the different interests of European women are met?
2009 will be an important year for politics in Europe. Within a few months a new European Parliament will be elected, a new European Commission will be appointed, and various high-profile posts will need to be filled across the EU institutions if the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force. These are some excellent opportunities for EU leaders and citizens to show that they are interested and serious about gender equality.
Should we impose legal quotas to increase the presence of women in European politics, or should we wait until this balance is achieved naturally? How can we get more women into the European institutions, and to engage more women to vote in elections?
What do YOU think? The Commissioner herself will react to your opinions after the 25 March.