International Women’s Day By Julia Heinrich Local councillor in the 19th district of Vienna (Döbling), Austria General Secretary of ELL Group Women and female leaders in politics Every year, on the 8th of March, we speak about more female participation in various sectors of our society and equal chances between men and women. Despite many efforts and political reforms in the past decades, the results are still not fully satisfying until today. If we take a specific look into the political sector, we can notice that many youth organisations of political parties do have a good gender balance. This shows that many women are interested in politics and want to participate in the democratic processes that shape our societies and countries. Over the years, we can observe that many women leave the political sector after a certain time and therefore drop out, before they can reach higher leadership positions on the regional and national level. There are several reasons, but two main issues, which are well known but unfortunately not solved yet, are the lack of full time childcare facilities and the double standard, which is applied upon women in politics. Even though many cities and communities offer all day childcare nowadays, many of them do not provide care during school vacations. Summer vacations in Austria last for two months, but a regular employee has only five weeks of holidays each year – politicians mostly have even less than five weeks. Additionally we have semester, Easter, Christmas and numerous smaller holidays all year round. Women in the political sector often have to be flexible and work in the evenings or on the weekends. Without a universal childcare solution many women with the wish to have children are forced out of the political field at a certain age – many of them never come back. Another big issue is the different way we judge women and men in public and in the media. Women in politics are often criticised for the way they look or the way they dress. Especially young women have to work way harder than men to be taken seriously. This discourages many women from running for higher public offices. This problem can only be solved in cooperation with the media and by all of us, by paying attention to how we use our language when we judge women in the public sector. In conclusion, it is important to point out, that we have achieved a lot when it comes to gender equality, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us in order to fulfil the purpose of the International Women’s Day.