The focus of this year’s International Women’s Day on female leadership could not be more relevant and more urgent. Yet, we need to move past the focus on a handful of global female political ‘icons’ and the slow crawl towards gender parity, and instead insist on societies where women have equal power and female leadership is valued.
Despite progress, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of government in Europe and around the world. Currently, only 4 out of 27 representatives in the European Council are women and less than a third of European national parliamentarians are female.
The reasons for this are not complicated: young women and girls are still conditioned to avoid leadership roles. Subtly or not, the policing of gender identities begins early, as girls are praised for their looks and are rarely taken seriously as potential leaders and decision-makers. And with Fortune 500 companies led by more men named John than by women, it is evident that there is a chronic lack of role models.
There are some obvious and noticeable exceptions, of course, and it is true that more and more women are stepping forward to take their place in positions of power, leadership and decision-making. Yet, too often we hold up the example of a handful of high profile, successful leaders as reason to be satisfied with the status quo. We fail to look at how much further many women have had to go in reaching their political goals, how much harder it is for them to succeed in political office due to amongst other things social pressure their male counterparts simply don’t experience.
This International Women’s Day, it is time for us to shift our focus from achieving gender parity, to recognising the power and value of women as political leaders and decision-makers.
That is why today, we launch The Alliance Of Her: a powerful new platform aimed at empowering liberal women across Europe to achieve their political goals and ambitions.
Building on our highly successful European Women’s Academy, The Alliance Of Her is so much more than simply another ‘women’s club’. We aim to deliver world-class academies for talented, ambitious liberal women at all stages of their political journey while harnessing the collective power of our growing alumnae and allies’ network. We fearlessly advocate to disrupt the status quo that is holding women with political aspirations back.
Across Europe liberal women have shown how their unique perspectives can help forge innovative solutions, challenge dangerous ideology and create policy decisions that deliver greater and more inclusive progress. It is not hard to see how increasing female political representation and achieving more diverse representation of women in leadership and decision-making could be key to solving the greatest challenges of our time.
This is why, as liberals, we believe that societies where women have equal power, where female leadership is valued, and where liberal women in politics thrive as much as their male counterparts, are societies that are more open, more inclusive and more prosperous for everyone. We are convinced that empowering liberal women to engage freely in decision-making and succeed in achieving their political goals is one of the most powerful and effective ways to do this.
Ensuring that women have equal power and that female leadership is valued equally by society is more than just a question of justice and human rights. Increasing female political power and representation is also about ensuring women’s vital experiences and perspectives are taken seriously by society. And when this happens, we all benefit.
Join us on our journey to empower liberal women to take their rightful place in politics!