Vote – and mark a woman!

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The policitical discussion among women is important!


Friday 29th of May 2009, the project BANDIAR invited to a seminar where women politicians, among them two candidates in the EU parliament election June 7th, Kirsti Kolthoff (fi) and Barbro Westerholm (fp) – talked about women and politics. Also two women politicians from the local level spoke about how it is to work as a woman and politician, Elisabeth Björk (s) municipal commissioner for the opposition and Berit Jansson (c) 1st deputy chairperson of the municipal executive board of Norrtälje municipality. The conversation, exept for gender equality and feminism also touched subjects like EU and what wishes and visions the audience had when it comes to the elections.

Gunilla SternerModerator and leader of the conversation was Gunilla Sterner, gender equality expert. Gunilla came from Malmö to Stockholm 1972 and has since 1994 worked as gender equality expert with the Stockholm County Administrative board. She has also worked with the government with the follow-up of the work in EU regarding mens violence against women.

Gunilla brought a personal question from her youngest daughter who can vote for the first time on Sunday the 7th of June. Amandas question was how can she find information about the election and the important issues in it.

Berit JanssonBerit Jansson (c) 1st deputy chairperson of the municipal executive board of Norrtälje municipality had an answer to give Amanda when it comes why the European parliament is so invisible even for someone in Amandas generation who is used to looking for information through the net. The decisions in the parliament is based on consensus decisions and consensus mean long processes without large conflicts and are therefore not very interesting from a media point of view. We need more of this, she says, and a better dialogue with our parliamentarians. I wish for a slimmer but sharper EU that deals with peace issues, environment and human rights. We women also need to support other women, Berit say and finishes with encouraging us all to mark a woman regardless what party we are casting our vote on – somthing that ecoes with consentual murmur around the room.

Elisabeht BjörkFor me the EU has always been a peace project say Elisabeth Björk (s) municipal commissioner for the opposition in Norrtälje. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am born in Denmark and has grown up with the stories about how bad it was during the second world war occupation and above all how my grandfather suffered then.

Power and politics equals democracy to me. To overcome boarders and work for democracy, environment and against trafficking in human beeings is to me important EU issues. Equality between men and women also is also such an issue that all agrees on is an important question for EU. I beleive that women promote womens issues – everyday questions like child care and care for the elderly for example.

Kirsti KolthoffDo we need a feminist EU? was the headline of the speach of Kirsti Kolthoff (fi). Kirsti is second name on the election list of Feministiskt intiativ to the European parliament and her key issues are of course feministic. She is for Women peace, women budget, a climat smart EU, women solidarity and women representation. Exept from telling about her political view she also told us about her time as a lobbyist in the EU. Kirsti worked during many years in the European Women’s lobby (EWL) which is the largest umbrella organisations of women’s associations in the European Union. They review the EU from a gender equality perspective and inform both decision makers and women organisations regarding EU laws and programs.

Barbro WesterholmBarbro Westerholm (fp) parliamentarian for Stockholm county and fifth name on the list for Folkpartiet to the European parliament, finished by talking about women leadership in politics. Barbro works foremost with issues regarding elder people and questions regarding homo- bi and transsexual peoples rights. She wants to be the elders voice in the EU parliament. Barbro told us about the first time she really became aware about the gender equality problems was when she worked as director for the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and sat as a representative for the Nordic countries in the World Health Organisation. Before this I had naturally known about the problem but it was really not until then it touched me personally. One example was that I was subject to the ”conquering techniques”  – I think many times without them being aware of what they did – when it was my time to speak. The men (we were only two women) took off their earpeaces (with the interpretation) and talked to their neighbours. This resulted in me starting to show slides instead of talking and after a while I got a question to why I was the only one showing slides and I got the opportunity to rise the issue and we had a very good and lively discussion about it and after this everyone sat very still and listened when it was my time to speak.


Barbro’s finishing words to all women that want to promote an issue politically:

Make sure you know twice as much as everyone else (find the facts), locate your friends, see the arguments of your opponents, have a readyness for the unexpected, don’t loose your temper and above all – be patient!


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