Over the last decade, women’s representation in politics has become a priority of the European Union and an important topic on the public agenda within the European family of states. However, this is still not the case for Romania, where indicators of women’s political representation in parliament, government or local councils are similar to those of countries without solid democratic traditions, with hybrid or authoritarian regimes.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, carried out by the World Economic Forum, Romania ranks 129nd out of 146 countries in terms of access to political empowerment. In addition, Romania is second to last in Europe with only 10% female representation in local politics, with Turkey being the lowest ranked, and the European average being 29%. Even if the share of women in the Romanian Parliament has increased slightly in the last two legislatures, it is still below 19%.
At the end of 2020, when the first liberal government under Florin Cîțu counted only one female minister out of 20 cabinet members, this was reason enough for three young female politicians (Roxana Vîlcu, Oana Duma and Alina Gîrbea) from the liberal party ‚Save Romania Union‘ (USR) to take action. They initiated the movement ‚Woman in politics‘ within the party. Together with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and the think tank Expert Forum, they then produced a study highlighting the country's democratic deficit, followed by events and public debates.
Nowadays, the initiative is gaining increased support within the party and society. We can also see the first successful results. The party's youth organization introduced a 30% quota for women at its congress in June 2022, and some party branches are now preparing to introduce similar measures on a voluntary basis. In October, together with the German Embassy and the other German political foundations, the topic was debated with representatives from all parties in parliament to bring it into the national debate.
The official presentation of the study results, followed by a debate, served as the launching pad for the national "Women in Politics" movement.
Project Director Raimar Wagner with the initiators of the movement. From left to right: Roxana Vîlcu, Oana Duma and Alina Gîrbea
President of the Romanian Senat, Anca Dragu (middle) with Senator Silvia Dinică and deputy Oana Țoiu from USR at the launch event. Sorin Ioniță from the think tank Expert Forum is presenting the conclusions of the study