Why The Upcoming EU Parliamentary Elections Are a Feminist Issue

The upcoming European Parliament Elections are crucial for women's rights and gender equality, as far-right parties' increasing success threatens women's rights, funding initiatives, and protections against discrimination.

Why The Upcoming EU Parliamentary Elections Are a Feminist Issue
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04-06-2024

Hannah Wohlbold

Women’s Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

 

The upcoming European Parliament Elections are not only a significant political event but also a crucial moment for the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality in Europe.

Representation in politics is critical to implementing just, inclusive, and intersectional policies. Female MEPs currently make up 39.8 percent of the European Parliament (European Parliament, 2024). While this figure is considerably higher than it was in the past, it still falls short of parity. Equal representation of women and men in political decision-making processes is not only a matter of fairness, it has a concrete impact on legislation and political priorities. Studies have shown that parliaments with a higher proportion of women are more likely to pass laws that promote gender equality and take better account of women’s needs (Wyman & Weh, 2023). The outcome of the upcoming elections will have a significant impact on future gender-just policy. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure a more balanced representation in the forthcoming elections.

 

Feminist issues are inherently intersectional. “Intersectionality” describes the intersections of different forms of discrimination, such as gender, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation or disability (Taylor, 2019). They affect various groups in different ways based on intersecting identities. This perspective is essential for comprehensive analysis and effective policymaking and policies enacted by the European Parliament can either mitigate or exacerbate these inequalities. It is therefore imperative that the elections reflect Europe’s diversity in political institutions in order to meet the needs of every single group. When casting their vote, voters should ensure they elect MEPs who can comprehend and advocate for marginalised groups and intersectional issues. They must be able to sufficiently represent those who are currently disproportionately underrepresented.

 

It is not possible to discuss gender equality at the political level without also addressing the far-right. They have consistently presented themselves as an opposition to social justice and intersectional equality, making their name on the ballot an inherently feminist issue. In the context of gender equality, far-right parties have consistently opposed or even reversed progressive gender policies on national (Coi, 2024a) and transnational (Kantola & Lombardo, 2021) levels, advocating for traditional gender roles instead and opposing measures that promote gender equality (Köttig et al., 2017). Their increasing success, which has been evident on a national level, poses a direct threat to women's rights in Europe. Their influence will undermine decades of progress in gender equality, reduce funding for gender equality initiatives, weaken protections against gender-based discrimination and violence, and limit what most people in Europe today consider fundamental human rights.

 

The upcoming EU parliament elections are of great importance from a feminist perspective. It is up to voters to ensure that the European Parliament remains an institution where the rights and needs of every single EU citizen are heard and respected. It is therefore crucial that voters become active in the upcoming elections, educate themselves on party or candidate positions, and vote for parties that are clearly committed to democratic values and fundamental human rights.

 

 

Note

It is recognised that a binary understanding of gender is neither inclusive nor complete. It does not represent the understanding of gender in this paper, and it is not this article's intent to reproduce harmful gender stereotypes. However, in the context of this newsburst, it was not possible to fully dispense with the distinction between man and woman.

 

Sources and Further Readings:

Coi, G. (2024, März 8). If far right surges in EU election, women’s rights could be imperiled. POLITICO. Accessed 4 June 2024. https://www.politico.eu/article/women-rights-peril-if-far-right-eu-election-surge-activists-say/

 

European Parliament. (2024, März 7). Women in the European Parliament (infographics). Topics | European Parliament.Accessed 4 June 2024. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/topics/en/article/20190226STO28804/women-in-the-european-parliament-infographics

 

Kantola, J., & Lombardo, E. (2021). Strategies of right populists in opposing gender equality in a polarized European Parliament. International Political Science Review, 42(5), 565–579. Accessed 4 June 2024.https://doi.org/10.1177/0192512120963953

 

Köttig, M., Bitzan, R., & Pető, A. (Hrsg.). (2017). Gender and far right politics in Europe (Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2016). Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Taylor, B. (2019, November 24). Intersectionality 101: What is it and why is it important? Womankind Worldwide.Accessed 4 June 2024. https://www.womankind.org.uk/intersectionality-101-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important/

 

Wyman, O., & Weh, D. (2023). Representation Matters: Women Political Leaders. OliverWyman Forum. Accessed 4 June 2024. https://www.oliverwymanforum.com/global-consumer-sentiment/2023/sep/representation-matters-women-political-leaders.html