Advocacy Coordinators gathered for their first training session in Athens in February 2019 and shared stories of our Unions’ projects. We were all amazed when Anna Szeremeta presented SI Warsaw’s poster project from October 2018 with the message “Now is the time for your first time”. The aim was to encourage – especially younger – women to vote.
Do we need a campaign for suffrage? Yes, of course we do! In the European Parliament slightly more than a third (35 %) of the 751 MEPs are women. After the 2014 elections only five countries have 50 % or more female MEPs; Estonia, Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Malta have the highest at 67 %. If gender balance is to be obtained in decision-making, we really need to give female candidates our vote! And let’s not forget that the electoral turnout in 2014 was less than 43 %.
Soroptimist clubs within the European Federation have already started spreading the posters on websites and social media. This both encourages women to vote and puts the Soroptimist logo on display in a new setting. QR codes may give further information of local interest, information on our organisation and more. Encouraging the use of their voting rights is a call to co-determination.
What about Norway? Norway is not a member of the EU and has no voting rights in the EU Parliamentary elections. Norway celebrated 100 years of women’s suffrage in 2013. This year we are commemorating 100 years of the right to vote of all adult citizens. In September we will have our municipal and county council elections. The turnout for the last elections was around 60 % and more women than men voted. But we still do not have equal representation in municipal councils (39 % women), parliament (41 % women) or government (45 %). Women under 45 years have the lowest turnout and should therefore be our main target. It is also a great chance to raise awareness of how we Stand Up for Women. I sincerely hope all Norwegian Soroptimists will join this poster campaign for the September elections.
Being the Union Advocacy Coordinator has turned out to be a very exciting position, because it allows me to work together with so many dedicated Soroptimists across the Federation!
Veslemøy Klingsheim, Advocacy Coordinator, SI Norway