Vienna, 28 October 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "The parliament should not be a place lacking women"

The Foreign Minister speaks about internationality, democracy, and women on the occasion of the constitutive session of the National Council

Vienna, 28 October 2008 - "As someone for whom Austria's position in Europe and in the international community is particularly important, I wish for a parliament that deals with international issues with the attention they deserve", stressed Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of today’s constitutive session of the National Council. "Self-provincialization is not a recipe for the future for Austria. Strong ties to one's homeland and open-mindedness should not become intellectual contradictions. The newly elected representative body bears great responsibility in this respect."

Plassnik added: "Especially in the times ahead, we must reinforce the reputation and value of representative democracy and increase the awareness of a broader public over this issue. The Austrian Parliament is the ideal place to seek the best solutions for Austria using objective - and even controversial - arguments."

"Women must be involved as determinants and shapers on all levels of politics, contributing their special experiences and skills", stressed the Minister. "At 27.3, the percentage of women in the National Council is simply not representative for our country’s reality in the year 2008. It is not possible to talk about the future without listening to the voices of women and dealing with their problems and concerns with the seriousness requested. Today women must represent their own interests and those of society, and should no longer be depended on representation through men", Plassnik continued.

"In 1919, universal suffrage opened an important door to women. Ninety years later, there is once again an ever growing gap in the presence of women in parliament", said Plassnik, criticizing the fact that there are fewer women in the new National Council than in the previous one. "This is definitely not a signal of recognition for what women already achieve and can achieve in our society. This is not what I call encouragement. With the exception of the Green Party, no other party represented in the parliament has any reason to be satisfied in this respect."

Federal Ministry for
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