Female MEPs increasing; slight decline in NL

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
. Dutch Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert meeting US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon in 2013. Source:Flickr/Secretaryof Defense

The portion of women in the European Parliament has risen in the last few decades. In 1979, when the European Parliament was first chosen directly, 16 percent of the elected Parliamentarians were women. In the current Parliament, that is 36 percent. Of the 26 Dutch members, 46 percent are women, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. 

In 21 of the 28 EU-countries, at least one third of the Parliamentarians is a woman. Finland has the highest number of female representatives, with 62 percent, followed by Denmark with 54 percent.

The Netherlands is in sixth place after Croatia, Estonia, Malta and Slovenia who all have their seats shared equally by men and women. The delegations of Luxembourg, Poland and Italy have the least number of females, at 17,20 and 22 percent respectively.

This increase of female representation in the European Parliament is directly proportional with the increased emancipation of women in Europe. Women are better educated, and participate more in the labour market as well as politics.

Some countries, such as Belgium, Spain, Ireland, France, Portugal and Croatia have a lawful quota of female representation on the list of candidates to fill in elections. Next to that, some political parties have taken it upon themselves to strive for an equal proportion of men and women.

National parliaments in EU member states are also seeing more female participants. Between 1993 and 2013, the number of countries in which female representation in Parliament was above 20 percent rose from five to 22.

The Netherlands is still lagging on female MPs, however, at 39 percent it is in fourth place in the EU after Sweden (45 percent), Finland (43 percent) and Denmark (39 percent). The lowest percent of female MPs can be found in Hungary (nine percent) and Cyprus (11 percent)

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