Profession/ Current priorities
Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments
© Jan 2001
I wished to work in the opposition and for NGOs, I wanted to disseminate this kind of political work and give my work more structure.
2. Do/did you have a role model?
Vandana Shiva. She an Indian politician and activist against the intensive factory-type agriculture and genetic engineering.
3. Does political involvement or policy making have a tradition in your family?
Rather not. My grand parents were actively involved in the NSDAP and SA (of the Nazi regime), I come from a very traditional farmers family in Carinthia.
4. Have you been engaged in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics - e.g. in a citizens' rights, parents or other initiatives? What were important experiences you made?
I have been involved in a Civic action group in Styria (Nein-Ennstal), as a lawyer in the activities of Global 2000 Styria (1990/1992) where I also served as a spokeswoman. I greatly enjoyed the work in a non-hierarchical small group.
My interest in politics began when I was 16 years old. My parents owned a small farm and a restaurant in a very rural area with lots of tourism. This where I become aware of the traditional behaviour dominated by men. Through active political work which I started in Styria in 1990 I wanted to push for change. in 1990 in Styria.
5. Did your objectives change during your political career?
My thematic interests have broadened over time. It all began with my interest in and commitment to the environmental. Now, as I am involved in the political process, I am also concerned with economic development, women's affairs and equal opportunities, also with culture. I have changed sides, went from civic action groups to the Green Party.
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Party memberships is a requirement for active political engagement. So I joined the Green Party in 1996.
2. Does your party have an equal opportunities regulation?
Yes, a 50% quota with an zipper system, alternating women and men for instance on candidates' lists.
3. Which function/offices did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after your joining the party was that? How did you get into running for an office?
One year after I joined the party, in 1997, I was elected a Board Member of the Vienna chapter of the Green Party. The same year I also became spokeswoman of the of the board of the Green Party in Vienna. I also acting as the spokeswoman when it comes to the environmental policy for both the Vienna chapter of the Green Party and the national level organisation of he party. It was a strategic decision, the party wanted to promote a newcomer (Quereinsteigerin).
4. Did you have mentors within your party?
Yes, another woman, Michaela Spurny, the manager of Vienna's Green Party.
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I have studied law with a focus on environmental law. In my daily work I can rely on a team of exerts who support my work.
2. What kind of qualifications do you have?
I have a law degree and also did my doctoral thesis of law.
3. What kind of jobs have you done?
After the completion of my degree I started to work for Global 2000 in Styria in 1993.
4. Are you linking both your professional and your political career?
No, I see myself as a professional politician.
5. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
I am specialised in law, my personal talents are team building and team work. I am good at motivating colleagues, I am disciplined and I also have the ability to easily communicate with others. And … well, my sense of humour.
6. What are your political priorities?
I would say in a mid-term perspective I would like to use all opportunities to transform ideas for environmental protection into reality: to produce concepts, which are feasible and close to people's lives such as car free housing areas or organic food in kindergartens. Priorities are also equal opportunities for women and men, to integrate women in all activities in- and outside of politician life. To work with persistence and continuity towards an eventual green participation in the Austrian Government.
7. Main fields of action?
Environmental protection, economic development, culture and equal opportunities for women and men.
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Yes, in a way. They developed from forming active protest to building a creative political power.
2. Do equal opportunities strategies in your opinion have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making- please specify?
The Austrian legislation is the basis, but not enough, we need creative solutions for the private sector!
3. Did you benefit from these strategies? How do you judge them?
Yes, without the quota, women don't stand any chance.
4. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy-making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
There is still direct discrimination: sexism in parliament, I even have to take care of an appropriate outfit, no short dresses, no low neckline etc. Given that parliament and political work in general is dominated by men, there is also a lot of indirect discrimination. If you claim support for women's art, there is immediately the question if there is such a thing as women's art. Men work in networks, women don't get involved there. If women want to get political influence they have to use the same strategies as men. My experience with the media are also typical. When I was first presented the media described me with typical female attributes, only the "Wienerin" (a magazine) made an exception.
5. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
To gain political influence, to be committed and versatile in specific themes and to be involved in the political process.
6. What obstacles have you had to overcome in your own career?
The struggle for power within the party. My capability was constantly underestimated, I had to fight to be taken seriously.
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