(Strasbourg) “We believe that equal opportunities and gender equality are the fundamental pillars of democracy. If there is no respect for equal opportunities, if there is no commitment to this, it is difficult for us to believe that our societies are truly inclusive and respectful of diversity”. Speaking at a press conference, Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni summed up the importance of the theme “Gender equality: Whose battle?” chosen for the 7th World Forum for Democracy that was held in Strasbourg from 19 to 21 November. This conviction has been the backbone of the Council’s activities for decades and has also inspired the “‘Me Too’ Movement which, in its own way, has motivated women to speak up”, thereby contrasting situations in which “they are not listened to”, except when they are killed, raped, abused. “So we felt it was right to address the issue of equal opportunities in connection with another matter of great concern – violence against women in Europe”. These are the two pillars on which the Forum has focused. “Experience shows that the countries that have introduced quotas for women have achieved results, even if initially these quotas had to be imposed”. Since 2003, the Council of Europe has recommended a minimum representation of 40%: “now we can discuss whether it should be 50% or even 52% as someone said at the Forum”, but in any case, “it is a way, but not the only way, of setting a target to advance on the path to gender equality”, Battaini Dragoni remarked. However, in the 47 European countries, the average representation of women is less than 40%”. Despite the quotas, however, “there are still problems” in the 17 European countries that have introduced them: it suffices to look at “the stereotyped image of women, the way in which they are depicted in the media, and the way they are victims of aggression, now also on new media”.