BRUSSELS: The Women in Parliaments Annual Summit 2013 was the first time that the European Parliament has welcomed so many women representatives from around the world coming together to use their collective experience to advance society. The conference discussed global issues from the perspective of female political leaders and possible change through female leadership, how parliaments can deliver on gender equality and how stereotypes and biased perceptions of women in leadership can be overcome.
Participants stressed the need to restore women’s dignity and self-esteem, unity and togetherness. Legislating gender equality is not enough; society needs to change mentalities so as to allow women greater access to law making, they said.
More than 50% of the world’s population is female, but not even 20% of political representatives are women, noted parliamentarians, calling for parity of representation between men and women.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, keynote speaker and President of Liberia, stressed that women and men should have the same opportunities, justice and freedom. “For every woman leader there are some thousands of other women who remain in solitude in the lower echelons of society. Decisive leadership from women and men is the joint responsibility. One giant step for one women is the only first step in a march”, she said.