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

Efi Bekou

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
My participation in the social and unionist movement of my country since my student years made me realise early the need of active participation in the political process and came as an expected result of my earlier activities.

2. Is there a tradition of political involvement/policy - making in your family?
There is no political tradition in my family. I come from a typical Greek family from a province, which followed the relevant models of the last twenty years. Its main interest consisted in growing close family relations and striving for an orderly progress of its members in conventional terms.

3. 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?
Apart from my active participation in party politics, I have undertaken activities in other spheres of society. I started with entering and actively participating in the unionist movement of the professional field I come from, the Greek Telecommunications Organisation. Later on I played a rather significant role in the women's movement of our country with my activities in the Women's Secretariat of the Worker's Confederation in the GTO and in the Women's Secretariat of the Greek General Confederation of Workers. Finally I was an active member of the Local Administration movement. Specifically for four years I was a member of the town council of a municipality in Attica and later on in the period 1994-98 I was surrogate prefect of Athens. Today I am still a member of the Athens Prefectural Council.

4. Where there disruptions in your political or in your personal life that have/had an impact on your career?
I wouldn't say there have been any interruptions in the course of my career in the social and political field. There has been a continuous evolution with consequent crucial posts from 1979 until now. In May 1999, when I took over as General Secretary for Equality, I switched from the field of social and union action and Local Administration over to the field of Administration and governmental posts.

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Party Affiliation

1. What was your motivation to join a political party?
What urged me to enter a political party was at first my active participation in the student movement of my country, right after the fall of the dictatorship (1974), when I was still a second year student in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at the university. I realised that the supreme form of social and political organisation was the political parties.

2. Which party and when?
I belong to the Greek Socialist Movement since 1976, when I still was a student.

3. Does your party have equal opportunity regulations?
The statutes of the party provide for a 20% minimal quota of women participating in the different organs and mainly in its highest organ, the Central Committee and the Executive Committee.

4. Which office/function did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after joining? How did you get into running for office?
In the party I have assumed various responsibilities and posts. First I was a simple member of the party's organisation in the place I worked. Later on I became a member of the Committees of the Executive Bureau of the party, first of the Committee for the union sector and then of the Committee for the ideological framework and instruction. For four years I have now been a member of the Women's Sector of the party and at this moment I am surrogate Secretary of the Women's Sector.

5. Did you ever change party affiliation?
I wouldn't say I have changed my party affiliation. There was a time (1985-89), when I had left the Greek Socialist Movement, because as a union member I disagreed with the income policy our government had adopted and I returned in 1989.

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Profession/ Current priorities

1. How does your profession relate to your political work?
I don't have such a problem. I have worked for a long time in the Greek Telecommunications Organisation (25 years). I don't work there any more. So, in any case I work exclusively in politics, with my present duties as General Secretary.

2. What kind of qualifications do you have?
I have graduated from the Mathematics Section of the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the University of Athens.

3. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
The special skills I could see in myself would be organisational and administrative, persistence towards my goal and interest for the final result. I want my actions and their result to be linked with my vision or the goals I have set.

4. What are your political priorities?
My main field of action today is promoting equality policies in my country. However I am still interested in the Local Administration movement as a modern form of organisation for the state and the society.

5. Main fields of action?
To help in promoting issues which concern the substantial conquest of equality in our country. Apart from the legal framework which is fairly progressive, I would like to help making the concept of equality evident in our everyday lives, on a social, financial, political, cultural and family level.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
Apart from the modernisation of the legal framework, I believe that the strategies for equal opportunities in our country should include quota in any case. It is a necessary measure in a transitory phase in order to ensure the participation of the critical mass of women in all decision-making and policy-forming centres of our country at the dawn of the 21st century.

2. Do equal opportunities strategies in your opinion have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making- please specify?
I myself have profited in my career from such strategies and I consider them as positive and necessary for my country.

3. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy-making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
I think that what keeps women from getting involved with politics is the fact that they still have to play multiple roles, they carry on their shoulders the full responsibility of traditional tasks in private life which society has imposed in the earlier years. Of course they have all obligations which arise from their intention of becoming equal members of the society and to ensure their financial independence and independent presence as personalities.

4. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
All the above keeps women from going into politics, but also the fact Greek society in its whole is not sensitive as regards the need of voting for women and letting them access the decision-making centres and processes. I believe that, as a result of many years of the women's movement struggle, but also of the policies promoted at state and government level for the last twenty years, little by little we can see a promising tendency in our country which takes advantage of the freshness, the imagination and the replenishment of our political life through the participation of women. This tendency which we can now see among voters, we must fully develop with specific policies, measures and actions and by modernising the electoral law. One of these measures are the aforementioned quotas. Finally, the obstacles women need to overcome on their way into the decision-making centres are related to the need of developing a new culture in society which will ensure that both women and mend share the obligations and the delectations of the private and public life and will recognise that the family tasks are not exclusively a woman's duty.

5. What obstacles have you had to overcome in your own career?
As far as my political career is concerned, the obstacles I had to overcome are much the same as those any woman who wants to be a good mother and wife, to work and play an active role in the social and political process would have to face. Like other women I mostly had to prove from the beginning or accept it as a condition that I am much worthier than any man to take over an important post. And we all know that this is not the case for men. Skill is often left aside when it comes to a man assuming political duties. We more or less take his political skills for granted and let him eventually prove in the process that he was not suitable for the task he was chosen for. For women it is exactly the opposite and that was my case too. I have been playing an active role in the social and political scene of my country for more than 20 years. Allow me to say that the crucial posts in unions, in Local Administration and in politics have been earned with exceedingly hard work and many times after making disproportional efforts as compared to those a man might have had to make in my place.

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