Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 07 March 2013

EU citizens think more women in power in developing countries would make a positive difference

On the eve of International Women’s Day 2013, a new Eurobarometer shows that 78% of Europeans think that having more women in positions of political power in developing countries would ‘make things better’.

In fact, over three quarters of respondents said that getting more women into leading roles in developing countries would improve respect for human rights, with 72% saying it would also improve living conditions and 65% believing it would prevent conflict and war.

Over nine in 10 Europeans thought that gender equality improves the way societies in general function and that all aid programmes should take specific account of women’s rights.

In terms of how problems in developing countries affect men and women; most respondents thought that women were affected more than men by physical violence (83%), as well as problems in accessing education (63%), basic human rights not being respected and lack of an income/job (both 61%).

EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs commented: “We put women at the heart of everything we do; making sure that our aid programmes take women into account in everything from education and healthcare, to agriculture and energy, so I am delighted to see that the majority of Europeans agree with this approach."

He added: "I am also interested to see how many people think that women in power can make a positive difference. It’s vital that every woman is given the chance to fulfil her potential; no matter where she lives".

Women continue to suffer severely from discrimination in developing countries; and confront serious health risks, particularly related to maternal health. Violence affects one third of all women in their lifetime. As the world’s second largest donor, the EU has a crucial role to play in helping the development of women and girls.

Since 2004, thanks to Commission support:

  • More than 85,000 new female students have been enrolled in secondary education

  • More than 4 million births were attended by health personnel

  • 10.8 million consultations on reproductive health were performed

Background and Key results

On International Women's Day, the European Commission presents a Eurobarometer survey with the views of European citizens on gender equality and the need to empower women in developing countries. Over 25,000 citizens of the 27 Member States were consulted for this survey.

Over nine in 10 EU respondents thought that gender equality improves the way societies function and that all aid programmes should take specific account of women’s rights. The range of the results in the EU regarding the opinion of gender equality was notably small, with the highest results being observed in Sweden, the Netherlands and Romania (all 96%) and the lowest results in Latvia, Slovenia (both 87%) and Estonia (86%).

Overall, EU respondents think the issues that affect women more than men are physical violence(83%), problems in accessing education (63%), non-respect of basic human rights and the lack of an income/job (both 61%).

Hunger and malnutrition (50%) and HIV/AIDS (59%) were the only issues where EU

respondents thought that men and women were by and large equally affected.

Europeans think that having more women in positions of political power and influence would have a positive impact on developing countries. Respect for human rights was the item which attracted the most positive answers in the EU, where over three-quarters of respondents said that having more women would ‘make things better’ (78%). The living conditions of people and preventing conflict and war closely followed, with 72% and 65% of respondents (respectively) also taking this viewpoint. Swedish, Finnish and Irish respondents were the most likely to say that having women in these positions ‘makes things better’.

For more information

Eurobarometer on Women in Developing Countries

For more information on the EU’s work with women in developing countries:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 2990 677)

Side Bar