Germany’s Green Party has placed the power to debate directly into the hands of women.
A new ruling, adopted at the party’s conference in Bielefeld, which ran from Friday to Sunday, stipulates that its female members have the right to decide whether a debate continues in the event of gender imbalance among its speakers.
The Greens had previously ruled that women and men were required to speak alternately during party debates.
In the event that only men were available to speak, all members were required to vote on whether the debate should continue, according to the women’s statute in the party’s constitution.
But the new ruling states that only female members should have the power to decide whether a discussion continues in such an event.
“If the list of female speakers is exhausted, the women of the assembly should be asked if the debate should continue,” the ruling states.
The ruling amended the women’s statue of the party’s constitution, which previously stated: “If the list of female speakers is exhausted, the assembly should be asked if the debate should continue.”
The amendment means that in the event of a gender imbalance, male members will no longer have a say in whether a discussion continues, placing power firmly in the hands of female members.
“The gender-balanced list of speakers should help ensure the participation of women in discussions,” the proposers of the amendment said in a statement. “If, however, the entire assembly is asked whether a debate should be continued by men in the event of a lack of women on the speakers list, the idea of quotas is reduced to absurdity.
“It would not be in women’s hands to decide whether to allow the debate to be conducted without female voices, but also in those of men.
“The women’s statute should actually counteract such patriarchal structures.”
Laura-Jane Buschhoff, a party member who proposed the amendment, wrote on the Greens’ website that the proposal was not intended to be exclusionary when determining who constitutes a female party member. This was in reference to concerns that transgender female members may be excluded from voting.
“I have experienced that there are indeed people who discriminate in regards to who is considered a woman,” she wrote. She added that amendments to the wording of the proposal were welcome to ensure that such issues could be avoided.
Buschhoff’s proposal was not the only feminist amendment to be adopted by the party.
It also decided that female delegates can only be represented by other female substitutes in the event of absence.
The Greens in Germany have a long history of supporting gender parity, and first introduced a 50% quota for women on its party lists in 1986. It also advocates introducing 50% female quotas in executive boards.
“We want measures for leadership positions at all company levels where women are underrepresented,” the party states on its website.