Prof. Dr. Melanie Sully

Reports on Women in Politics, Dr Melanie Sully

Photo: ParlDion, J. Weichselbaum

 Reports on Women in Parliament by Prof Dr Melanie Sully


"Die neue Weiblichkeit der FPÖ" Nadja Kwapil, Die Zeit, 5.9. 2013
with the upcoming Austrian election in mind, a look at the position of the parties on women in politics. Not only the number of women in parliament is important says Dr Melanie Sully but "empowerment" ie the chances to influence policy. Thus the Party structures and representation are important indicators. In the FPÖ this has not changed much over the years.
Figures on Party structures available from the Frauen Bericht (Ministry of Women)
Current % of women by party in the Austrian Parliament here


Women in Parliaments Event in Austrian Parliament, 11.6. 2013 by Dr Melanie Sully

This event focussed on women in parliaments in Africa with an overview given by a member of the Ugandan Parliament. Then Kareen Jabre of the Inter-Parliamentary Union presented the findings of the study on an action plan for gender sensitive parliaments. She pointed out that as of April 2013 20.8% of parliamentarians in the world are female and this is an 80% increase compared with 1995. For the first time the figure is above 20% but there are strong regional contrasts with higher representation in Nordic countries and the lowest in the Arab states. But Jabre continued to point out that the main body of the research was not on statistical material but to find support measures for women once they are in parliament, often a strange and uncompromising environment. She suggested it was important for women to get to know the written and unwritten rules of procedure, to learn how to deal with the "old boys club", beware of party manoevres and come to terms with confrontational debates. In many countries female MPs will come up against reactionary attitudes, sexist remarks and lack of childcare facilities. Jabre said it was important to enlist the institution of parliament as an ally for women empowerment. There was a lot institutions could do and questions could be asked on raising awareness on mainstreaming, and political culture. Statements were given by women MPs from Austrian parliamentary groups. Speaker Barbara Prammer concluded the event and encouraged MPs in different parliaments and parties to exchange ideas and experience in the interest of stronger parliaments. by Prof Dr Melanie Sully


Reflections on Women's Day and Politics 2012-13 Prof Dr Melanie Sully 

In Britain progress is being made on legislation which will end primogeniture (discriminatory rules regarding femlaes inheriting the throne, see elsewhere on this homepage articles by Dr Sully). The new laws however do not end discrimination against Catholics who will still be barred from becoming Monarchs. In addition there are no changes planned to the rules of primogeniture still in existence for the remaining hereditary peers in the British House of Lords.

 Despite promises of a third women in the Cabinet, Prime Minister Cameron missed a chance in the Autumn of 2012 with his government reshuffle. In fact the percentage of women in his cabinet actually went down from 22% to around 17%. Home Affairs is the only major ministry to be run by a woman following the changes.

A new report by "Counting Women In" criticises the poor performance of Britain for female representation in the senior levels of the judiciary, education, arts, finance and the civil service. Only 5% of women are editors of national newspapers.

Yet the intake to the parliament after the 2010 elections was the highest ever at 22%. In 1979 for example the figure was a mere 3% and certainly the Labour All-Women Short Lists policy has played a role in increasing the acceptance of women as candidates. The Counting Women In study recommends improving monitoring of who becomes a candidate and why. At the same time a scandal has rocked the Liberal Democrats involving allegations of sexual harassment against a Lord who took decisions on candidate selection for the party.

 According to the IPU of 2013, Britain with just over 22% female representation in parliament was not the lowest legislature in the EU. The Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Greece, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta and Ireland and Italy were all under this figure.

Countries with zero female representation in legislatures include Micronesia, Qatar and Vanuatu.

 Following the French parliamentary elections in 2012, female representation jumped to almost 27%, the reasons being more popular support for the Left with fairer candidate lists, and a tightening of the legislation imposing financial penalties for those parties ignoring the parity laws. The latter state there should be parity on the candidate lists but do nothing for ensuring that women get placed on a safe or winnable seat. However the definition of what is winnable varies depending on the expected “swing” to or against particular parties and this is not always clear. Following the election parity was carried through in the cabinet but the “power balance” was far from achieved. In fact gender stereotyping was the case with women being given Ministries such as Social Affairs, Commerce, Ecology, Education, the Rights of Women, Decentralisation,, Tourism and Sport. One major breakthrough was the re-establishment of a separate Women’s Ministry.

 In 2012 in Ireland the parliament passed a law on gender quotas linking them to loss of state funding as penalties. The country has only 15% women in the Lower House.

 Elections to the Georgian parliament showed an increase in the percentage of women represented from 6% to 11% and possibly new laws on party funding played a role. Georgia is now ahead of EU countries Cyprus, Hungary and Malta in terms of female representation in parliament.

 In Kiev, women took to joint cross-party action to block the podium in protest against the continuation of the imprisonment of Timoshenko. See story on Go-Governance Facebook: By Olga Stoliarchuk Kiev.
Also see report by Olga on the conference Kiev Dialogues in Kiev with the OSCE and others


 Dr Melanie Sully gave a talk at the Alpha Club , Vienna on women in politics and strategies to increase participation in political life, 11.10. 2012

Interviews with Dr Melanie Sully: "Das UN-Ziel einer 30-prozentigen Frauenbeteiligung in politischen Ämtern hatte Österreich im Nationalrat schon mal, momentan reichts mit 27,9 Prozent nicht ganz. Warum gerade die 30 Prozent wichtig wären, hat Politikwissenschaftlerin Melanie Sully heute Joana Bostock im Interview erklärt; die Expertin hat eine Studie zum Thema veröffentlicht "Frauen in der Politik - im Rahmen der EU", 7.10. 2009 FM4 Radio and  FM4/ORF March 8 2012 and ORF/FM4 26.1. 2012

 Discussion on electoral reform, financial incentives and representation of women in parliament


OSCE Publication 2014 on Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution Ed by Prof Dr Melanie Sully and Miroslava Beham