Double-speak: the European Union and gender parity
Ideas about pursuing a more equal balance between men and women in decision-making bodies and ‘parity democracy’ have been promoted by both the Council of Europe and the institutions of the European Union for nearly 20 years. In the early 1990s, the institutions of the EU played an important role in providing a platform for discussion and debate and thus brought these notions into mainstream political discourse in some of the member states. In response, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, several member states implemented policy to encourage more balanced participation for men and women in national and sub-national decision-making bodies. However, despite its own policy statements to the contrary, the EU decision-making bodies themselves remain male-dominated. This article asks how the EU on the one hand provided an impetus for some of the member states to take action to increase gender balance in decision-making while, on the other hand, its own institutions have remained largely unchanged.