Brussels. - The European Union Development Commissioner Neven Mimica said that he would be the most vocal defender of gender equality in his work, a couple of days after he returned from a global forum in Addis Ababa dedicated to the role of women in politics. But the lack of representation of women in politics remains problematic in Europe as well.
According to Euractiv he stated that: "It’s impossible to explain how half of the world’s population can be really heard if they are not properly represented politically."
As a positive example, he mentioned African countries, Rwanda, Mozambique and South Africa in particular, for achieving major progress in terms of the representation of women in parliament. He explained that as a result of a gender quota introduced in Rwanda, this was the only country in the world with more women than men in parliament. In South Africa, the percentage of women was nearly 45%, and in Mozambique, 40%.
In a blog entry Mimica wrote: "I'm therefore stunned when I read statistics that only one in five Parliamentarians across the world are women. How can this be in the 21st century, and how can we expect that half of the world's population is heard, if they are not properly represented politically?" He promises to personally strive to make that happen and will use all available EU resources to close the gender gap worldwide once and for all, together with international partners. As there could be no development without women's empowerment.
Mimica noticed correctly that some African countries are more advanced in political representation of women than others. Among the top ten countries having the highest representation of women in parliaments one can only find 3 European countries, Andorra (3), Sweden (6) and Finnland (8). In the European Parliament 37% of parliamentarians are women.
In the Euractiv article he said: "Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is something I would like to be quite visible in every program we make." He added that the European Commission would strive to make its development programs "gender-proof" and "gender-sensitive", and that it would be tested for the extent to which it helps close the gender gap.
Mimica aims to be the "most vocal male feminist" and expained: "The reason for this is simple. I really believe that development cannot happen if half of the world’s population is left behind.” Gender equality was not only an issue of human rights, Mimica argued, adding that women's empowerment is also about smart development, and smart economics, and is intrinsically linked to the global goal of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.
It is obvious that gender inequality and lack of women´s representation are not just development issues, but problems no country in the world was able to tackle yet. Hopefully the other Commissioners for internal European issues heard Mimica and introduce the same "gender-proof" and "gender-senstive" policies in every program as well. The European Commission is composed of the College of Commissioners of 28 members, including the President and Vice-Presidents. Only 9 out of 28 Commissioners are women.
While the committment and enthusiasm of male allies for gender equality is useful and the fact that Mimica does not shy away from using the word "feminism" is worthy of some praise, it could be problematic to be the most vocal male feminist. Whenever a man takes the floor and speaks on behalf of women, women´s voices are silenced.
Everyone knows: "Actions speak louder than words" - Maybe the new most vocal male feminist could give his job to a woman.
Photo: © ec.europa.eu