Catherine Ashton, first High Representative for Foreign Affairs – a step forward for women in politics?


By URBACT, on December 1st, 2009

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ashton2Catherine Ashton, previously EU Commissioner for Trade joined an illustrious group of women who have been Foreign Ministers in the world when she became EU’s new foreign affairs chief in November. She will rank only behind Hilary Clinton and Angela Merkel as one of the most powerful women in politics, representing half a billion EU citizens. As Trade Commissioner over the previous year she has developed a good reputation in global arenas and is seen by many as having a straightforward, practical and businesslike approach that will prove a strong basis for the tasks of the post. The appointment holds an additional significance. It offers a message for other women involved in politics throughout the EU. The current European Parliament comprises 31% women and 69% men. Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the EU, argued early in 2009 that, “ 2009 offers some excellent opportunities for EU leaders and citizens to show that they are seriously interested in gender equality “. Catherine Ashton’s appointment may not show a major transformation in the position of women within European politics but for many women acting in local, national and international arenas it provides a valuable and positive role model for the future.

Suzi Kvas
WEED (Women, Entreprise and Employment in Local Development) project Lead Partner

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