Martin Schulz (PSE),Guy Verhofstad (ALDE) and Ska Keller (Greens) support the European Women’s Lobby Manifesto for the EP 2014 Elections: « Act now for her future, commit to gender equality! ».
This Manifesto, published on the week of the International Women’s Day (8 March), focus on gender equality and how to achieve it through a comprehensive framework, a sustainable funding and credible EU policies.
It describes the priorities to attain gender equality which should be achieved during the next European Parliament mandate. On the one hand the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) proposes to appoint a EU Coordinator on women’s rights and gender equality, who would report to the European Commission’s President. On the other, EWL calls for a gender-sensitive EU budget, an adequate EU funding for programmes on equality and also calls for women’s rights representatives for the EU on the international level.
This manifesto is also linked to the 50/50 campaign, launched by the EWL to promote the equal representation of women and men in all European institutions to put issues of women’s rights and gender equality high on the EU political agenda.
The EWL also want the future European Commission President to present a gender-balanced College of Commissioners and the European Parliament to guarantee parity in all the decision-making positions within its house.
Martin Schulz and Guy Verhofstad signed the EWL manifesto two weeks before EU elections (22-25 May 2014). Ska Keller answered to the call of the EWL for Top Candidates’ to be committed to gender equality supporting it via video. From his side, Jean-Claude Juncker decided not to sign the Manifesto, because he “has decided, as a matter of principle, not to endorse or sign up to any specific proposal or initiative until the voters have spoken on 22-25 May”. Hence, he didn’t engage formally to boost gender equality if he’s appointed as the President of the European Commission.
This commitment for gender equality is extremely important. Looking at the distribution of men and women in the last European Parliament, we can observe that there is still a great unbalance. Following the actual rhythm, to reach gender equality among EP representatives we’ll have to wait 30 years!
Moreover, as Ines Zuber MEP underlined in her interview to EU-Logos, austerity measures put in place by rightist European governments to face 2008 economic crisis impacted negatively on women’s rights. In a period of deprivation women’s rights are less and less considered as a priority and conservative government take the chance to impose their conservative views on society.
We have a clear example with the serious step backwards of Spanish Parliament on abortion.
Michael Cashman, a Labour MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Development Committee, recently defended the importance of promoting sexual and reproductive health rights through EU Development policy.
“Sexual and reproductive health rights are human rights. Behind these four words are women, men, girls and boys who should be free to use their own body and sexuality in the way they wish to. Sexual and reproductive health rights are, in my opinion, the basis of any other human right, as they deal with reproduction, with the right to give birth or not. They deal with life. They also deal with death.”
However the European Parliament and the future President of European Commission should commit to defend these rights within EU countries, first of all. The strengthen of gender equality in European policies and a bigger presence of women in the decision-making could definitely help to defend women’s rights.
According to the latest Swedish opinion polls, the Feminist Initiative (FI), a Swedish feminist party, may win its first seat in the European Parliament, overcoming the limit of 4 percentage points. Women preoccupation for their rights is also rising in Europe.
Could that the driver for change concerning gender equality in European institutions? For now, we have three candidates to the presidency of the Commission on five who supported EWL manifesto. We’ll see if they will truly engage for a new Europe, more equal, more just.
To go Further:
– EWL Manifesto for EP2014: EN
– EWL campaign 50/50: EN
– The ‘I decide’ campaign, launched by Michael Cashman MEP: EN
– Swedish feminist party tipped for first EU Parliament seat: EN