Ridi Steibl
Ridi Steibl

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Ridi Steibl

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
When my daughter was 6 years old, I wanted to get involved in political work. I like to be creative, to gain influence and power.

2. Do/did you have a role model?
Margret Thatcher, not because of the contents she stands for, but her style - not to be afraid of making decisions, her personality etc…

3. Does political involvement or policy making have a tradition in your family?
My father was Mayor in Vasoldsberg, a local community that has 3.500 inhabitants.

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 was involved in the Catholic Youth Movement (Katholische Jungschaar) and - at national level in the "Landjugend", an organisation for young people in rural areas. From early on I felt the need to be open for other people's arguments and to develop a true culture of debate and discussion.

5. Where there disruptions in your political or personal life that had an impact on your career?
Some, but I recovered from this. I have been a politician for 20 years and have much experience with this specific way of life. I am one of the few politicians with a direct mandate (of Graz city and Graz area with 140.000 population). Disruptions have the function to strengthen you, you get more cautious, also harder, more politically strategic. But you also you loose trust in other people.

6. Did your objectives change during your political career?
At the beginning of political live arts and culture were my main theme. I organised exhibitions, events etc. and undertook many relevant activities at regional level. Eventually I widened my thematic scope and focused - as an important priority -on women and equal opportunities policies. Generally speaking, there is a change in the themes which are regarded as being important in the political arena. Nowadays there is no more support for "classical women's politics". I am trying to combine economic development and equal opportunities and to articulate women's politics with social affairs, social law and labour law.

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Party Affiliation

1. What was your motivation to join a political party?
I wanted to get political power, that requires to be member of a party.

2. Which party do you belong to? Since when?
To the ÖVP (Österreichische Volkspartei), since 1980.

3. Does your party have an equal opportunities regulation?
Yes, it has a 33,3%, quota at all levels- local, regional and national.

4. 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?
At the beginning I worked as leader of the local women's organisation of the OEVP (Bezirksleiterin und Ortsleiterin der Frauenbewegung). Since 1998 I am Deputy Chairperson of the party at national level (Bundesobmannstellvertreterin), in 1994 I became Chairwoman of the women's organisation (Landesfrauenvorsitzende) of the workers representation of the OEVP (ÖAAB) at national level. Since the year 2000 I am also OEVP's Spokeswoman for family affairs (Familiensprecherin) and Chairwoman of advisory board for the family policies (Familienpolitischer Beirat) of the Styria region.

5. Did you have mentors within your party?
Indeed, two women: Waltraud Klasnic, Head of the Styrian Government) and Ruth Feldgrill Zankel, former Minister of Family Affairs.

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Profession/ Current priorities

1. In what respect is your profession linked to your political activity?
I am social and life advisor (Lebens- und Sozialberaterin), my profession and experience help me a lot in my daily life as a politician.

2. What are the main stages of your professional career?
In my younger years I have worked for Catholic Youth Organisation (Katholische Jugend) and afterwards in the Catholic Education and Vocational Training Institution (Katholisches Bildungswerk), For the last ten 10 years I have been working in the Styria Government's Department for Women and Family.

3. Are you linking both your professional and your political career?
The themes and problem areas are very similar. But I try to keep my work separate from my political career. As an advisor in the government I have to do my best for everybody across all political priorities. As a politician I have a different function.

4. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
I think I am hard working and persistent. I am always eager to learn and to find and collect new information. I don't have a team or a back office at my disposal, I am permanently learning and studying … relevant legal questions for instance. I am also good at networking.

5. What are your political priorities?
The right of self determination for women. Politics have to offer a framework for that. This is why gender mainstreaming is so important.

6. Main fields of action?
Family and women's politics.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. 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 on equal treatment for women and men as well as positive action plans (Frauenförderpläne) in the public sector are among the best in Europe. They are being implemented at all levels. But much remains to be done in the private sector.

2. Did you benefit from these strategies? How do you judge them?
No, in my job as a civil servant I rather find disadvantages for my career as a politician.

3. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy-making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
Currently there is a discussion within the party about the age of female politicians. Women over 50 years of age are regarded as too old. But there is of course no such question about men of this age.
Women are discriminated against in political life. You even see it in things like the time accorded to political speeches. Men are louder, more aggressive, more polemical - and being listened to. They also have their own informal networks. They meet in their vine-cliques, they have hobbies and meeting points, where women aren't able to participate because they cannot afford it - time wise and money wise. More recently there is - as I said - also age discrimination. Young pretty women are preferred in the political life.

4. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
Women have difficulties to gain influence and to build a power base. Money is not the point.

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