Lithuanian Economy Minister Mindaugas Sinkevičius, who is running for leader of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), proposes to introduce gender quotas for currently male-dominated management boards at state-owned and municipal companies.
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The minister has put forward a bill that provides for restricting the representation of either gender in state and municipal companies' management boards to not more than two-thirds.

"Based on data available to us, only 31 of 89 management board members at state-owned enterprises were female. We want proportional and fair participation of women in the decision-making process," he told BNS.

Sinkevicius brought forward the proposal as the Social Democrats on Thursday started voting in the party's first-ever direct leadership election, in which the 32-year-old minister is running against four other candidates.

Norway in 2003 became the first country to impose gender quotas in state-owned companies, which are required to allocate 40 percent of seats to women. Similar laws were later adopted by France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Gender quotas are generally supported by left-wing parties, which say that such quotas help ensure gender equality and cite research showing that higher female participation increases labor productivity.

Critics argue that such quotas only increase bureaucracy without addressing key social problems that prevent women from pursuing careers and may set artificial hurdles for more qualified people to fill these positions.

The Social Democrats are electing their chairperson in a direct election for the first time. Voting began on Thursday and will continue through Saturday, with the results expected to be announced on Apr. 10.

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