The primary function of the political system is to represent its people. That alone is reason enough to elect more women, even if we disregard all the positive effects doing so would have on society. Right now, women are severely underrepresented in politics. That means women’s voices are not being heard as often as those of men, and that means their perspective isn’t taken fully into account. This goes particularly from women from even more underrepresented groups like women of color, women with disabilities, and people from the LGBTQIA+ community.

Studies show that proper political representation will lead to a more accurate reflection of social issues on the political agenda. In turn, that leads to more legitimacy and representation, greater reach for policy decisions, and greater expertise in decentralized industries, like healthcare. Diverse teams also communicate better and pay more attention to their own actions and mutual differences, which means they work more efficiently.

In other words, a more diverse political landscape improves the quality of our democracy.

Source: Binnenlands Bestuur, http://www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl/ambtenaar-en- carriere/nieuws/aantal-vrouwen-in- politiek-stagneert.9479021.lynkx, June 2015 [Dutch]

Research shows that representation matters a great deal: young women and girls who have been exposed to female political leaders are more ambitious about their career path. Women are also more prone to report violence against women and other criminal acts to the police. Research has also shown that issues women find important are more often addressed by female leaders than by their male counterparts. According to a recent report by UNWomen, the latter especially has positive long-term effects. Focusing on healthcare and education reduces child mortality rates, increases employment, and ensures goods are being distributed more fairly.

A Canadian study revealed that women in politics have a noticeable positive impact on national industry, international relations, defense, climate issues, science, and agriculture. In short, getting more women elected is not just good for democracy and emancipation, but for society as a whole.

According to research by Prodemos and Atria, a more diverse political landscape improves the quality of a democracy. This leads to:
• More legitimacy in the decision-making process: because citizens feel the people making decisions are just like them, they’re more likely to agree with those decisions.
• Increased representation: when women feel better represented, they feel like they’re being heard.
• Increased efficiency, because diversity allows for better teamwork.
• Increased reach for government policy: women generally frequent other networks, which they can then connect to government.
• Putting issues that matter to women on the political agenda.
• Greater expertise in decentralized industries, like healthcare.

Absolutely. Luckily, the lists of candidates include many very capable women. We’re not saying you should vote for just any woman, but encouraging you to find out who appeals to you most and has the qualities you believe are important in a politician.

In that sense, the person’s gender definitely matters—our background and experiences shape our perception of society. Women experience things differently from men, simply because of their different social status and role. Their experiences and perspective deserve to be heard as well. That’s why it’s so important for our elected politicians to represent society as a whole.

Only up to a certain extent. Politics serves an exemplary function, and as such is supposed to reflect society as a whole. We’ve never had a female Prime Minister, most of the country’s top management officials are male, and women are systematically being paid less than their male colleagues.

In theory, everyone should be able to deal with that inequality. However, in practice, it’s important to see equal representation in politics. Women will focus on different issues than their male colleagues. After all, men have been the majority in politics for decades, and they still haven’t addressed that inequality. We say we’ve waited long enough! If men won’t solve the issue on behalf of women, then it’s time for women to do so themselves. Voting for women helps us all to reach that goal.

Female elected representatives also serve as role models for other women and girls, whether or not they have political ambitions themselves. In order to foster the emancipation of women and girls, it’s important for women to be visible in positions of power. That’s why we say: Vote for Women!

Great! Unfortunately, that strategy doesn’t get more women elected. Because of her high ranking on the party list, she’ll easily get into Parliament without your help. That’s why it’s smarter to cast a preferential vote for women further down the list of candidates. Be sure to keep an eye on the polls. If a party is expected to win 5 seats, the smart thing to do is vote for the woman or women from number 5 on. That way, preferential voting might still get her into European Parliament!* And of course, vote for a woman who appeals to you!

*Electing candidates through preferential voting is possible in many European countries like The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But even when your voting system does not allow candidates to be chosen through preferential voting, it is still an important signal to political parties when a many voters vote for women.

Yes! However, it’s all about smart voting. Many people will simply vote for the party leader, who is first on the list. Voting for someone else, like picking the first female politician on the list, is called preferential voting. Casting a preferential vote for the woman of your choice may have great impact on who ends up your elected representative.

Polls are a useful tool to determine who best to vote for. If a party is expected to win 10 seats, the smart thing to do is vote for the woman or women who fall just outside of that scope. That way, preferential voting might still get them into Parliament!
Be sure to check out our voting guide!

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