Do you want more women to be elected? Vote smart! Don’t vote automatically for the first woman on the list: due to her high position, she will usually take a seat regardless of your vote. Look down, to the women who really need your vote to be elected. Below, we explain to you how this works.

Find the party you want to vote for.

How many seats will your party get, according to the polls?

Vote for a woman, lower on the candidate list. This way, you can elect her with your preferential vote.

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You have to vote smart! Do not automatically vote for the first woman on the ballot: she doesn’t really need your vote, because she already has a high ranking. If you want to elect more women, you have to look lower on the ballot. Especially the candidates who do not have a high ranking, need your vote to get a seat on the city council.

How do you know what ‘lower on the list’ is? You can check how many seats your party of choice has at the moment, and you can check if there are any polls. Imagine that the party currently has 5 seats, and according to the polls the party will stay this big, then you can vote for a woman from number 5. These are the women who really need your vote.

A woman with a lower spot on the ballot, can still be elected if she gets enough votes. She will get a place higher on the ballot and often takes the position which would have gone to a man instead. This is how you vote for extra women in politics! But above all: find a woman who is right for you by looking into various parties and candidates on the ballot.

Unfortunately, voting for the first woman on the ballot doesn’t lead to more women getting into the city council. Due to her high ranking, she will often take a seat anyway. Do you want more women to be elected? Vote for a woman with a lower position on the ballot. 

In big municipalities, polls can be a useful tool. If a party gets 5 seats according to the polls, vote for a woman below candidate number 5. With this strategy, voters elected three extra women in the House of Representatives in 2017, dozens of women in the city council in 2018 and three extra women in the European Parliament in 2019.

Quality is extremely important. This is why it matters to vote for someone you consider good, for example a woman who stands for your ideals. It does, however, make a difference when you take gender into consideration: with more women and diversity in politics, the quality of politics will improve. It is proven that better decisions are made in the fields of – amongst others – education, care, environment and economics. Currently, there is a shortage of both women and diversity in politics and this undercuts the quality of our democracy. To improve this, it is essential that we elect a diversity of people. Because the variety and diversity of all these experiences guarantee that everyone’s voice can be heard.

Besides, politics set an example. When there are equal opportunities for everyone in politics, it can result in equal opportunities in the rest of society (1). A higher diversity in people has many positive effects: such as more trust in politics, an increased acceptance of the voting results, and it breaks stereotypes about who should be in politics (2).

This sounds logical but is more complicated. Women do not represent, per definition, all or only women. And men are also able to represent women. But often, women have other experiences forthcoming from their gender identity which will insufficiently be represented in male-dominated politics. You’ll get far with empathy, but to fully stand in someone else’s shoes is impossible.

Groups that are underrepresented will probably be better represented by voting for someone who resembles them (1). More studies point out that politicians with various backgrounds bring in standpoints which otherwise would have been overlooked (2). Besides that, it makes sense that those who are affected by certain policies ought to be involved in its decision-making. After all, they contribute knowledge about this group and have specific wishes and interests.

Equal representation does not come naturally. It is essential that women become more actively involved in politics and that the women who do so, will be rewarded with our votes!

Correct and this is one of the reasons why we started Vote for a Woman (Stem op een Vrouw). The list of candidates is put together by the political parties themselves and there are no rules for a good gender balance, apart from the rules parties impose upon themselves (1). Unfortunately, this still leads to an overwhelming number of candidate lists existing of men only. Furthermore, almost all leading candidates are men. Women are also more often in ineligible places. This won’t change unless parties receive clear signals from voters and party members that the time has come for more women on the ballot.

There is also good news! Despite the fact that there are less women on the ballot than men, there are plenty of eligible women to vote for, if we vote smart! When more women get involved in politics, they serve as role models for other women to become politically active. And thus, this is how our vote will also help solve this problem (2).

Brilliant! Please, do mind that the distribution of men and women is fairly equal both high and lower on the ballot. Sometimes parties put a lot of women in the top ten, but then it turns out that only thirty per cent of the candidates on the entire ballot are women. 

And does your party really have an equal distribution? Even then it can be a great idea to vote for a woman lower on the list. Because then we can try to fix the overall shortage, even when some parties hardly put any women on their ballot. Do focus on the woman that appeals to you the most, of course.