Women can now shut down male-only debates in Germany’s Green Party

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.

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The Greens had previously ruled that women and men were required to speak alternately during party debates.

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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.

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But the new ruling states that only female members should have the power to decide whether a discussion continues in such an event.

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“If the list of female speakers is exhausted, the women of the assembly should be asked if the debate should continue,” the ruling states.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“The women’s statute should actually counteract such patriarchal structures.”

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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.

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“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.

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Buschhoff’s proposal was not the only feminist amendment to be adopted by the party.

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It also decided that female delegates can only be represented by other female substitutes in the event of absence.

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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.

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“We want measures for leadership positions at all company levels where women are underrepresented,” the party states on its website.

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