Brussels, August 29, 2007

Dear Member of Parliament,

Re: Support for legally binding quotas to achieve the equal representation of women and men within the Hungarian Parliament

As the President of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union with over 4000 member organisations throughout Europe and lobbying for full equality between and men, I welcome and very much support the recently launched campaign in Hungary for the achievement of women’s equal participation in the Hungarian Parliament.

Parity democracy and women’s participation in political decision-making on an equal footing with men has always been a priority for EWL. We believe that binding positive measures to achieve this equal participation are indispensable tools. Thus, EWL strongly supports Hungarian women’s efforts to establish a legally binding quota-system, and warmly congratulates women NGOs, and those politicians who do not wish to stop short of 50% representation as a target to be eventually achieved in the Hungarian Parliament.

According to an Eurobarometer survey published in January 2007 a large majority of Europeans were of the opinion that more women are needed in management positions (77%) and as Members of Parliament (72 %). Member states of the European Union have committed themselves to equality between women and men many times at international, European and national level, including through strong provision in European treaties. Gender equality is related to fundamental notions about the quality of social justice, human rights and the nature of democracy, and it is a pre-requisite to participatory democracy and human and economic sustainable development. There are strong indications that the inclusion of both sexes in legislation and policy making leads to more adequate decisions that better fit a diverse citizenry, thus promoting better allocation of public resources. Gender balance also leads to the introduction of forgotten and/or new issues on the policy agenda.

It is the obligation of those already trusted with decision-making power to ensure the visibility of women in the political field thus contributing to the eradication of stereotypes and the realization of women's human rights. Studies have shown that only a “critical mass” of women actually present in the Parliament (at least 30%) will allow them to push for gender equality inside institutions and allow for “critical acts” in favour of gender equality.

While the final goal is parity democracy, i.e. an equal participation of women and men in decision-making and in all aspects of life, actually mirroring women’s proportion in, and contribution to society, quotas ensuring a better representation of women are a useful and, indeed, necessary tool as expressed in a resolution adopted in 2003 by EWL members representing thousands of women’s NGOs throughout the Union.

I therefore very much hope that the current Hungarian campaign in favour of legally binding quotas will be successful and urge all Hungarian decision-makers to support it.

Yours sincerely,

Kirsti Kolthoff
President of the European Women's Lobby


EWL- LEF, 18 rue Hydraulique,  B-1210 Bruxelles
Tel. +32 2 217 90 20 – Fax: +32 2 219 84 51 - e-mail: ewl@womenlobby.org
Website: http://www.womenlobby.org


The EWL is the largest coalition of women’s NGOs in the European Union, representing over 4000 national and European non-governmental women’s organisations working together to achieve equality of women and men and respect for women’s human rights in EU policy making.