By Faith Campbell
On January 22, 2020 the Greek Parliament elected their first female President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The country’s previous head of the Council of State, received the nomination for candidacy with 261 members of parliament supporting her out of the 300 total. Achieving widespread support for a single candidate in the past decade has proven to be a difficult task for all of the multiple political parties. This election comes at a time when Greece is trailing behind it’s EU partners in terms of gender parity within their legislatures. The percentage of women in parliament has decreased from 23 percent in 2015 to 20.67 percent today.
The President’s role in Greece differs from the one in the United States. For instance, the President of Greece has primarily legislative powers instead of only heading the executive branch, and they act as the Head of State for diplomatic relations. Sakellaropoulou’s election adds her to the ever changing, and growing, list of female political leaders. Hopefully this bold move by the Hellenic Parliament will lead to greater gender parity at all levels of government.
Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a graduate of the Sorbonne University in Paris, she has worked as an environmental and constitutional lawyer. In 2018, she became the first woman to head the Council of State, the highest administrative court in Greece, and she chairs an environmental law society. Part of the extraordinary election is the broad support across party lines of Sakellaropoulou. She is seen as a “political outsider” who does not belong to one party. Taking a look at some examples in the United States, it is no surprise that a woman might be the one that comes across party lines to work with everyone.
To close off while rounding back to Greece’s decrease in political representation of women, Prime Minister Mitsotakis appointed a cabinet composed of nearly all men only a year before this historic election. His appointments have been criticized by many, but he has announced his support for Sakellaropoulou. Regardless of political motives, this election is a good start to normalizing women in leadership and achieving gender parity among elected officials.
Good luck to President Katerina Sakellaropoulou in her inaugural term in office, we are sure she will do well!
Faith is a full-time student at Marietta College, Ohio and is participating in the American University Washington Semester Program this spring. Faith joined the RepresentWomen team as a Research Intern in January and hopes to contribute to the office atmosphere with her cardigans, tea and feminist perspective.