No Modern Democracy Without Gender Equality – A Debate in the Polish Parliament
On the 12th of March 2009, in the run-up to the European Parliament elections a national conference took place in the Sejm (Lower Chamber of the Polish Parliament) during which a resolution was adopted concerning the equal status of women and men. The conference was attended by 150 participants from all over Poland. It was organized by the Polish Women's Lobby.
Sejm (the Polish Parliament), 12 March 2009
Modern democracy cannot exist without gender equality
In the run-up to the European elections in Poland we received yet another signal that the issue of equal status of women and men has been completely excluded from the parliamentary work.
The Parliamentary Women’s Group which has been inactive for a while as well as unwilling to cooperate with women’s organizations, has lost its ”raison d’etre” after several of its members in succession tendered in their resignations.
The start of the present parliamentary session saw the dissolution of the Sejm’s Commission for Equal Status. Such a state of affairs is in our opinion a serious threat to the democratic transformation and constitutes a contravention of the modern European democratic principles.
The Polish Government does not view the issue of equal treatment as an important social problem and does not see the need to include it in the public debate. It also seems to avoid making political decisions regarding the issue, decisions which would foster effective solution to these problems.
The policy of neglect and inaction adopted by the Government are preventing Polish women from having any real influence on the decision making processes, are limiting their civic participation and the development of political initiative.
An inadequate participation of Polish women in decision-making bodies at all levels of national and european institutions significantly limits the development of the democratic process which is based on equal opportunities.
The elections to the European Parliament present an opportunity for change. Therefore the participants of this conference are directing an urgent appeal to policy-makers, political party leaders and civil society organizations for active involvement in ensuring that gender equality is respected in the process of preparing lists of candidates for the EP election and for active participation in the election itself.
We are issuing an urgent appeal to all the Women and Men in Poland -
it is time for concrete and meaningful action:
- lets encourage women to run as candidates and support them in the election campaign
-lets vote for those candidates who are going to make a positive contribution in the area of gender equality
- lets not surrender our rights voluntarily by choosing not to participate in the elections
- we should closely monitor the fulfillment of election promises.
A sustainable development of modern European democracy won’t be possible without changing political systems in such a way that both women and men have an equal share in the decision-making process.
The participants of the National Conference: “Equal Status of Women and Men. A Debate in the Run-up to the European Elections.”
translated by Monika Sarnowska