Quick facts

Qualitative facts

1.  Election system and system for standing candidates in the parties
Impact on women

2.  History of Women's suffrage

3.  Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political decision-making
   a.  Infrastructure responsible for EO
   b.  Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy
   c.  Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics

Anna Karamanou

Europäische Datenbank: Frauen in Führungspositionen

Report from Greece by our transnational partner
Fotini Sianou

Quick facts
Women in Politics:
Women's suffrage active: 1952
Women's suffrage passive: 1952
1st Women in parliament: 1952 and 1967:
13 women elected, max. 4 seats at the same time in parliament.
1st Women in government: 1956-1958 Lina Tsaldari,
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
1st Ministry on women's issues:  
% women in national Parliament: 10,3% (2000)
% women in national Government: 12,0% (2000)
Electoral System:
Proportional: Chamber of Deputies:
300 deputies; 282 elected by party list vote from 50 multi-seat constituencies, 12 elected by party list vote (3% barrier) from national constituency awarded to realize proportional representation.
Quota Law: No quota regulation legislation.
Party Quota: ND quota only, apart from that no quota system on party level.
% women with secondary degree: 65,0 % (1994/1995)
% women with degree in higher education: not available
% women in senior management: 6,4% (1999)
Women's employment rates:
Full time: 37,3% (1998)
Part-time: 10,6% (1998)
Activity rate: 49,8% (1998)
Unemployment: 17,4% (1998)
*sources: Employment in Europe 1999 and Schlüsselzahlen zum Bildungswesen in der Europäischen Union, Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaft 1997, Luxemburg; European Database - Women in Decision-Making and data by transnational experts.

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Qualitative facts

1. Election system and system for standing candidates in the parties
Impact on women

The election system in force is a system of reinforced proportional representation with preference for cross indication.
Since the end of the 1980s, the major parties have formally established quota or proportional representation systems. However, there have been no positive actions so that women could be supported in order to stand as candidates.
Therefore, these systems are not implemented in practice, because no women are available.
The institution of preference for cross indication is another factor deterring women from standing as candidates and preventing their election. This makes the election campaign of an individual extremely costly and competitive especially for the "parties of power". Thus, those eventually elected will be those who have more money or other financial support and secure better publicity through the mass media.

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2. History of Women's suffrage

1887-88: For the first time in Greece, the slogan "Voting rights for women" is heard, presented in "Ladies Newspaper".
1921: Prime Minister Gounaris promises voting rights to women and submits a proposal to the Third National Assembly. The proposal's rejection causes violent debates.
1924: The National Assembly decides to give voting rights to women after five years. They can vote in local government elections, but not stand for office. This only applies if they are over 30 years old and know how to read and write.
1928: First public gathering on women's voting rights.
1934: Women are entitled to vote in the local government elections. In the end, only 240 women voted, because of negligence in registering them for the elections, social belief and attitudes and due to the great number of illiterate women.
1945: The resolution of the National Assembly of the Popular Revolutionary Authority of Greece (PEEA) held in Corischades recognizes equal civil and political rights for both sexes for the first time in a temporary constitutional document. Women have an equal vote and can be elected in the National Assembly. (1945-1949: civil war).
1952: According to Act 2159, women have the right to vote and can be elected in both local and general elections. However, they are excluded from the November elections, because of a delay in registering them in the voting catalogues.
The first woman member of the Parliament, Heleni Skoura, is elected. She and Virginia Zanna are the first women candidates.
1956: First woman in the government: Lina Tsaldari, Minister of Social Welfare. The first woman Mayor is elected in Corfu.
1964: 135 women are elected as municipal council members.
1975: The first Constitution, which explicitly stipulates that all Greeks (men and women) are equal before the law.

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3. Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political decision-making

1975 Constitution, Article 4: "All Greeks, men and women, are equal before the Law and have equal rights and obligations". The Constitution incorporates principles on Equality, as they are included in international legislation, in the UN International Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (Act1342/83) and in the European Social Charter (Act 1426/84).
However, Article 116 of the Constitution allows 'divergences' from the principle of Equality "for serious reasons, in those cases which are specifically stipulated by the Law". This provision has not allowed until recently for positive measures to be taken (quotas at decision-making centers, conditional preferences for women when employing and promoting employees etc.), despite the fact that these have already been introduced in Greek legislation through the ratification of international conventions.
After many years of demands put forward by women's organizations, the present Parliament has decided to amend Article 16 of the Constitution, so that, "after the 'divergences' have been eliminated, only the possibility to take temporary positive measures will be provided for... for a true implementation of the principle of Equality". In order for the amendment to be finalized, it has to be approved by the next Parliament, which will come from the elections of 9/4/2000.
At the same time, by making a radical turn in its Jurisprudence, the State Council (the supreme administrative court) has decided, by means of the decisions Nos. 1933 and 1917-1929/88 of its Plenary Session, that "the taking of positive measures in favour of women is not contrary to the Constitution to the extent that these measures aim at precipitating the restitution of a true equality between men and women".

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a. Infrastructure responsible for EO

In 1982, at the culmination of the activity of the Greek feminist movement and through the positive impact by relevant institutions in the other EEC countries, a position of a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Equality is established for the first time. By means of Act 1288/82, a nine-member Council for Gender Equality is established (an advisory body that was directly under the Prime Minister and functioned as an independent unit of the Ministry of the Head of Government. Act 1558/88 has upgraded this Council into a General Secretariat for Equality, which is now under the Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation.
The General Secretariat for Equality is responsible for the promotion and materialization of the legal and substantive equality in all sectors (political, economic, social, cultural). For this purpose, the Secretariat proposes measures to be taken by the State, collaborates with international organizations, promotes actions, intervenes into various political bodies and gives updates and information.
Its current priorities are harmonized with the practice and developments of the National Employment Plan and with the planning of the Third Community Support Framework. This harmonization is also with the new provisions on Equality in the European Union Treaty, the European documents regarding the promotion of women in decision-making centres, and the course of the European policy on Equality. They are summed up in the following sectors:
1. Gender mainstreaming;
2. Strengthening of the mechanisms promoting Equality;
3. Work - Employment;
4. Balanced participation in Decision-Making;
5. Violence against women;
6. Mass Media - Publicity.

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b. Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy

At the 1997-2000 National Action Plan of the General Secretariat for Equality, the balanced participation at Decision-Making Centers is graded as the fourth aim. To execute this, a special integrated action plan is being prepared (2001-2006).
According to the National Report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (June 1999), the General Secretariat for Equality is planning positive actions and measures:
- Campaign to sensitize public opinion and the political parties and information about the quota strategy.
- Research into the barriers women face in their career and in politics and support of social organizations and institutes that conduct similar research.
- Conferences in co-operation with NGOs, co-operation with the trade unions women's sections in promoting women's participation in their executives.
- Systematic gathering, processing, evaluation and publication of quantitative and qualitative data regarding participation of women/men at all levels of economic, social and political decision making.
- Study of the political system and the election laws pointing out any indirect discrimination against women.
- Periodic reports about the role and status of women in the parties, in public administration and in trade unions and positive measures in order to increase the participation of women in administrative positions.

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c. Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics

The General Secretariat for Equality publishes statistical data regarding the participation of women in the government, the National and European Parliament, parliamentary committees, the Judiciary and in the Diplomatic Corps.
In addition, it collaborates closely with women and feminist organizations by taking them seriously into account and jointly developing proposals pertaining to legislative and other measures on the promotion of equality.
Specifically with regard to women's participation in decision-making, some financial support (as it does not have a greater potential) is provided to the Political Association of Women (*) and to the Network of Women Elected in Local Government.
Before the 1999 European Elections, the General Secretariat for Equality organized a campaign for an increased participation of women in the elections and in the European Parliament. (In the European campaign this included: "Vote for a balanced participation", promotion of a television spot, advertisements in the Press, distribution of a relevant leaflet, and a meeting).
In addition, a proposal was developed for an Act pertaining to positive actions in women's participation in company boards, committees assisting government work, and the Local and Prefectural Government. In addition, frequent attempts have been made to get a permanent committee on equality in Parliament institutionally established.

(*) This is an established form of co-operation among the women's departments of the parties - with the exception of the Communist Party -, the Greek section of the European Women's Lobby, employers, trade unions and journalists.

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Portrait: Anna Karamanou

Member of the European Parliament
Member of the Bureau of the Socialist Group

Anna Karamanou was born in Pyrgos, a town in Southwestern Greece, in 1947. She studied Philosophy at the University of Athens and she received a scholarship for a one-year course in the U.S.A.

She has been member of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) since 1974 and member of the Central Committee of PASOK since 1977. Human rights and gender equality have always been in the centre of her interests. She was an active trade-unionist in OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation), member of the Women's Committee of GSEE (General Confederation of Labour), and member of the Women's Committee of the European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC).

Anna Karamanou has served as the State General Secretary for Equality, and has also worked as an expert of the European Commission, in the Equal Opportunities Unit, representing Greece in two European Networks (1983-1990 & 1992-1996) for the promotion of women's rights. She is member of the Association of Greek Women Scientists, member of the Secretariat of the ''Front of Reason, Against Nationalism'', founding member and general secretary of the "Political Association of Women". Secretary of the Women's Section of PASOK since 1994 and Vice-President of the Socialist International Women since 1996. She is a full member of the parliamentary Committee for Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee for Women's Rights and Equality of Chances and a substitute member of the Committee for Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism. She is also a full member of the Delegation of the European Parliament for Southeastern Europe and a substitute member of the Delegation of the European Parliament for the countries of Africa and Caribbean. In July 1999 she was elected Member of the Bureau of the Socialist Group.

In 1999 she was awarded the prize of "PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP A. IPEKCI", for her contribution to the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.

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