The share of women in the European Parliament has risen steadily in recent decades. In 1979, when direct voting for the European Parliament began, 16 percent of European Parliament members (EPs) were women. In the present parliament this is 36 percent. Women account for 46 percent of Dutch EPs.
Women in European Parliament
Women account for at least one-third of EPs in most EU countries
In 21 of the 28 EU countries, at least one third of members of the European Parliament are women. Finland has the largest share of women EPs, 62 percent, followed by Denmark with 54 percent. The Netherlands is in sixth place, after Croatia, Estonia, Malta and Slovenia, which each have women on half of their parliamentary seats. The delegations from Luxemburg (17 percent), Poland (20 percent) and Italy (22 percent) have the smallest shares of women.
Women more educated and more active in labour market and in politics
The increased presence of women in the European Parliament is related to the increase in female emancipation across Europe. Women are better educated, and participate more in the labour market and in politics. Countries like Belgium, Spain, Ireland, France, Portugal and Croatia have even set a legal minimum for the share of female election candidates. In addition, some political parties themselves aim for an equal distribution of men and women.
Women in European Parliament per member state, 2014
Share of women in national parliaments also larger
In all member states, the share of women in national parliament has also increased. In 1993, for example, there were only five countries where women accounted for more than 20 percent of MPs; by 2013, this was the case in 22 member countries.
The Netherlands, where 39 percent of members of the House of Representatives are women, ranks fourth in the EU in this respect, after Sweden (45 percent), Finland (43 percent), and Denmark (39 percent). Hungary and Cyprus have the smallest shares of women in parliament: 9 and 11 percent respectively.
Women in EU national parliaments