EU representation of women requires a 'new approach'

The European method of engagement through compromise has its benefits but more needs to be done to improve female representation at the highest level, writes Tokia Saïfi

By Tokia Saïfi

06 Feb 2014

As an MEP, I am always struck by seeing the extent to which legislative work at European level stands out in comparison with that undertaken by national parliamentary assemblies, in terms of its strong culture of compromise.

This European method, which is almost exclusively based on negotiation and the seeking of consensus, means that, for the most part, it is possible to arrive at solutions which are both innovative and acceptable to all member states.

A task in which familiarity with, and respect for the legislative systems and cultural references particular to each member state are sine qua non conditions of success.

It is my belief that this method is, currently, the most suited to ensuring the progress of women’s role in the economy, politics and even research.

"Although female representation is currently moving forward rather than backward, certain 'pockets of resistance' remain to be dispersed. That is areas where no European or national direction or regulation has succeeded in obtaining any results"

Indeed, although female representation is currently moving forward rather than backward, certain 'pockets of resistance' remain to be dispersed. That is areas where no European or national direction or regulation has succeeded in obtaining any results.

While there is, obviously, no miracle solution, it is the use of compromise and comparison between the proposals put forward by various countries which, in my view, will ultimately result in a viable solution.

Over and above these 'pockets of resistance', we are naturally left with the task of consolidating our achievements and ensuring that they reach the greatest number of people.

This principle is enshrined in articles two and three of the EU treaty, which specifically stipulates that "the Union must promote peace, its values and the well-being of its people".

Consequently, at the beginning of last year, as part of the work undertaken by the political commission of the parliamentary union assembly for the Mediterranean, which I chair, I initiated a seminar aimed at the Moroccan, Tunisian, Algerian and Libyan female representatives who, at the time, were due to take part in several historic ballots in their respective countries.

This issue is also the common thread guiding my actions as an MEP. Highlighting the positive socio-economic impact of increased representation, rather than relying on a number texts which are sometimes both condescending and of no practical use.

When our neighbours to the south were faced with having to seek as wide as possible a political consensus in order to keep the promises of the Arab spring, the experience of the European parliament proved to be extremely enriching for all those involved.

Our comparative, consensual European approach can, therefore, also be applied beyond our frontiers, or, in any event, offer a measure of guidance.

We must now cross the threshold into a new phase, one requiring closer monitoring of emerging countries.

Indeed, the parliamentary assemblies of Rwanda, Senegal, Angola and even Cameroon are challenging Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Finland for the top places in female representation rankings.

Could the move be made from a European to a multilateral approach?

Read the most recent articles written by Tokia Saïfi - EU-Algeria: Strengthened relations can bring stability and security

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