European Commission’s Network begins working to overcome the obstacles to women’s career progress
The European Commission’s Network of Women in Decision-making in Politics and Economy, which is an initiative of the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Mr. Vladimir Spidla, comprise the Chairs of existing European-level networks active in promoting the advancement of women and, in particular, the promotion of women in decision-making positions.

AFAEMME, as a member of the network, was represented by its President, Mrs. Maria Helena de Felipe, in the first meeting of the Network held in Brussels on June 2nd, 2008. Charing the meeting was Mr. Spidla; Mrs. Gurmai, Vice-Chairman for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality; Mrs. Pyke, Director for Equality between Women and Men, Action against Discrimination, Civil Society; Mrs. Devonic, Head of Unit - DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Unit "Equality between Women and Men" and Mrs. Ribeiro, Policy Officer of the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Unit "Equality between Women and Men".

The European Commission’s Network added-value lies in its potential to facilitate partnerships and synergies between existing European networks and all stakeholders, and in particular decision-makers. The work experience of the sixteen Organisations members and their reputation will contribute to achieving gender balance in decision-making, breaking down the existing barriers to women’s career progress and giving them a higher visibility and profile.

As a network of networks, the Commission's Network provides a platform for European-level cooperation, exchange of information and experience, debate, mutual learning, and sharing of good practice with a view to promoting gender balance in decision-making at all levels and overcoming obstacles to women’s career progress.

At present, women account only for 24% of members of national parliaments and governments in Europe. And in the private sector, men still represent 9 out 10 board members in Europe blue-chip companies. The discrepancy is widest at the very top: only 3% of these companies have a woman presiding over the highest decision-making body.

AFAEMME and the other members of the network will now have to reflect on the best strategies and practice to make progress on this issue, in particular in politics and the private sector.

The next meeting will be at the en d of the year in Brussels and the Network will present its first results in 2009, highlighting examples of best practice and summarising the exchanges and debates between the members of the Network.
List of members of the European Network of Women in Decision-making in Politics and the Economy

Jocelyne Bougeard, President, Committee of Women Elected Representatives of Local and Regional Authorities (Council of European Municipalities and Regions)

Gabriella Canonica, Regional Coordinator, BPW Europe, Business and Professional Women – Europe

Helena de Felipe Lehtonen, President, Association of Organisations of Mediterranean Businesswomen

Sophia Economacos,President, Eurochambres Women's Network

Adelheid Ehmke, President, European Platform of Women Scientists

Gisèle Gautier, Representative of the Network of Parliamentary Committees for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union

Marianne Karlberg, Co-ordinator, European Network to Promote Women's Entrepreneurship

Kirsti Kolthoff, President, European Women's Lobby

Leena Linnainmaa, President, European Women's Lawyers Association

Sonja Lokar,Coordinator for the South East Europe Office, CEE Network for Gender Issues

Bola Olabisi,Director, European Women Inventors and Innovators Network

Tina Reisenbichler, President, European Women's Management Development International Network

Slavica Uzelac, Project Coordinator, Femanet - Eurocadres

Mirella Visser, President, European Professional Women's Network

Aude Zieseniss de Thuin, President, Women's Forum for the Economy and the Society

For more information on the topic, please see the following documents:

• Report "Women and men in decision-making 2007 - analysis of the situation and trends": View pdf

• Database on women in decision-making: View web

• Commission's Roadmap for Equality between women and men (2006-2010) View web