EU ignores gender equality pledge with all-male team – ‘Words not followed up by actions!’

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The board, set to meet for the first time this week, is made up of European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica, Portugal’s European Affairs Minister Ana Paula Zacarias, and Guy Verhofstadt. The seven-person delegation also includes EPP group leader Manfred Weber and S&D chief Iratxe García.

The Parliament is also sending four other observers from groups to the board – but the bloc has faced backlash as they are all men.

Speaking to Playbook, Mr García said: “I can’t believe that the other political groups could not find a female leader to represent them.

“But this is always the problem with equality – that words are usually not followed by deeds and that women still have a long way to go to break the glass ceiling.”

Last week, Parliament President David Sassoli said the Committee “regretfully does not reflect our commitment for gender-balance”.

He said: “I am deeply concerned that only days after the International Women’s Day, we are not able to live up to the very principles that we claim we defend, especially in the context of the future of Europe.

“Is this the signal we want to send to young generations, to our fellow citizens and to our counterparts in national parliaments and Member States?”

He urged the group chiefs to “reconsider this issue”.

To mark International Women’s Day last year, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed to make Europe a “continent of equal opportunities” for both genders.

The Commission presented the EU Gender Equality Strategy, which sets out policy objectives and actions to advance towards gender equality by 2025.

Portugal’s MEP Sandra Pereira said by exercising women’s rights in both living and working conditions will change people’s “perception and views on gender equality”.

She said: “It is by exercising women’s rights that the improvement in living and working conditions, equal participation in all areas of society – namely in maternity and paternity – that we can change people’s perception and views on gender equality.

“Tackling inequalities requires an end to unregulated working hours, job insecurity, low wages, indiscriminate dismissals and disinvestment in public services.”

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In January this year, MEPs voted in favour for the Gender Equality Strategy but expressed the 2020-2025 plan was too vague and lacked defined targets.

German MEP Maria Noichl said at the time: “Today the European Parliament puts gender equality back on the agenda.

“We say ‘yes’ to a gender-equal society and ‘no’ to violence against women and girls of all backgrounds.

“If nothing changes in the EU, it will take more than 65 years to achieve gender equality.

“The Gender Equality Strategy and its proposed actions are a faster route to equality between men and women.

“It also strengthens our position on the backlash against women’s rights taking place in several member states.

“Rule of law in Europe can only exist with gender equality – without it, democracy is lagging behind.”

Back in October, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) published its 2020 Gender Equality Index.

The index monitors the progress made every year towards gender equality in the EU and in each member state.

For last year, the EU scored 67.9 points out of 100.

Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL, EL), Vice-President of the Parliament in charge of gender equality and diversity, said having women in power is “crucial to promote equality”.

He said: “One aspect is especially striking: having women in power is crucial to promote equality in other fields.

“Within the European Parliament, we are taking this very seriously and we were able to make significant steps towards closing existing gender gaps.

“About 40 percent of the members are women at the moment and we have gender balance among the Vice-Presidents.”

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