[Updated: 17 February 2022] Two out of the three main European Union institutions are ruled by women now! On January 18th, Roberta Metsola was elected as President of the European Parliament until 2024. Metsola is an MEP from Malta since 2013, and she belongs to the European People’s Party (EPP). This nomination makes her the third woman in history to occupy this position, after Simone Veil (1979-1982) and Nicole Fontaine (1999-2002), and the youngest President of the European Parliament ever (43 years young).
In the first speech addressed to the house, Metsola highlighted the huge responsibility to honour David Sassoli’s legacy, to fight for a stronger Europe in “the shared values of democracy, justice, solidarity, equality, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights”.
Plus, Metsola’s speech was highly appreciated by her Pro-European Union feeling and her willingness to make people believe in the European project. “We must fight back against the anti-EU narrative that takes hold so easily and so quickly.”, said Metsola as she kept addressing the attention to the corrosive effect of disinformation within the European society.
Metsola won the election in the first round of balloting, supported by the three main European political groups: the European People’s Party, the Socialist & Democrats, and the liberal’s Renew Europe.
In total, Metsola received 458 out of 690 casted votes, against two other opponents (also women): Alice Kuhnke (101 votes) and Sira Rego (57 votes), for the Green Party and GUE/NGL, respectively.
Women in power with the support of the EU
Throughout history, we could clearly state that Men occupied the main functions of the institutions or countries. Even with the fight for Women’s rights at the beginning of the 20th century, women in top positions were an exception until the previous decade. Gender equality is a Human Right, and therefore, it needs to be protected and well used by the European institutions. It is important to highlight that the EU is an important ally of women in order to fight for gender equality. The EU has adopted several legislations to support gender equality in the European Institutions and in the Member States. Every day, European legislation positively affects the daily life of women in matters of labour conditions, social policies, or security.
To address the lack of women in top-position levels, the EU felt the need to intervene in order to create fair rules that allowed a visible parity between genders. Hence, in a report adopted in January 2019, Parliament called on European political parties to ensure both women and men are put forward for the bodies governing the European Parliament in the ninth parliamentary term. The result was the nomination of 41% of women for MEPs – the highest percentage of women elected for MEP in the European Parliament History!
Still, Women are under-represented in European Institutions. We could see some advances with the first-time nomination of Women for the European Commission Presidency (Ursula von der Leyen) and to rule the European Central Bank (Christine Lagarde), however, there is more room to go in order to achieve full gender equality in the European institutions.
In sum, the nomination of Roberta Metsola is a combination of hard work, determination, and good influence of European legislation to bring brilliant women on stage.
Who are the new EP’s women vice-presidents?
Taking into account the gender equality approach by the European institutions, the representation of women in high-level posts in the European Parliament is also increasing. For example, in the first half of the current parliamentary term, eight of the 14 vice-presidents were women (representing 57% of the total of vice-presidents). For the second half of the current parliamentary term (which has begun with the election of Roberta Mertsola as President of the EP), it was maintained the numbers of Women Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, which means eight of the 14 elected vice-presidents are women.
With regard to political groups, half of the elected Women Vice-Presidents are from the Socialists & Democrats Group, two women from the liberals Renew Europe, one woman from the European People’s Party, and one woman from the Greens. Below, you could see a short presentation from the new women Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament.
However, if we look at the whole Bureau of the EP, there is President being a woman, and then there are currently 8 Vice-Presidents and 3 quaestors who are women. Together with the President, then there are 12 women in the Bureau of the European Parliament. This makes is a 60% of women of the total composition (20 members) of the Bureau.
Pina Picierno (S&D)
She is an Italian Politician, serves as a Member of the European Parliament since 2014 and it was the second most voted Vice-President of the ballot. She works on the Committee on Budgets and on the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament.
Ewa Kopascz (EPP)
Ewa is a Polish politician, who serves as a Member and Vice-President of the European Parliament since 2019. She was re-elected for a second term as vice-president on 18th in January 2022. She was Marshal of the Sejm (the peaker of the lower House of Poland) and Prime Minister of Poland.
Eva Kaili (S&D)
Eva is a Greek Politician and TV News presenter. She is in the European Parliament since 2014 as MEP. She embraces the vice-presidency of the European Parliament for the first time and is the first Greek woman to be in the post since 2014. She has been serving on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL).
Evelyn Regner (S&D)
Evelyn is an Austrian lawyer and politician and Member of the European Parliament for Austria since 2009. She is a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Delegation for relations with the Federative Republic of Brazil, Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. While she was Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Regner said that: “In the 21st century, it cannot be depended on the gender how people live and love. The European Parliament has to continue to be the guarantor of the protection of women’s and human rights.”
Katarina Barley (S&D)
Katarina is a German Lawyer and Politician who has been a member and Vice-President of the European Parliament since 2019. She works on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. Plus, she is keeping attention on the developments of the Conference on the Future of Europe. She was re-elected for a second term as vice-president on 18th January 2022.
Dita Charanzová (RE)
Dita is a Czech politician and diplomat. She is a Member of the European Parliament since 2014, and Vice-President of the European Parliament since 2019, being reelected for a second term as vice-president on 18th January 2022. She works in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and in the Committee on International Trade and the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age.
Nicola Beer (RE)
Nicola is a German Lawyer and Politician, who has been serving as a Member and Vice-President of the European Parliament since 2019. She joined the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and she has been an active part following the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Heidi Hautala (Greens)
Heidi is a Finnish politician and Member of the European Parliament, since 2014. From all the names mentioned above, she is the most experienced woman, being on her 5th term as MEP (She was MEP from 1995 to 2003 and 2009 to 2011), and she is on her 3rd consecutive term as Vice-President since 2015. She is a Member of the Committee on International Trade and of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, and in the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). The main themes in her work are human rights, openness, global justice and environmentally responsible legislation.