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PES Women President’s blog

Back in Strasbourg, meeting President Barroso for a decisive Women’s rights Charter

Another Strasbourg week has passed and even if I am already on the road to Hungary for campaigning, I wanted to say a few words on the work in Strasbourg and to share some thoughts with you, dear readers.

So the Commission has officially presented its declaration and position on the Women's Rights Charter (see the press release from the Commission).

As I shared it with you last week, I am very disappointed by such a weak project. The European Commission has reduced the Charter to a solemn and symbolic text reiterating our European values on gender equality, congratulating ourselves on what we have achieved, aiming at marking the anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. 

Therefore Britta Thomsen, coordinator from the Socialists and Democrats’ Group at the Committee on women’s issues of the EP, and I met Mr Barroso, President of the European Commission, to express and underline our demands concerning this Charter, which is a PES proposal based on a consultation with women organizations and proposed during the European Elections in our Manifesto.

  • First of all, the Charter should be an overarching document including a reference to the Convention for Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, as the highest existing international convention, to the Gender Roadmap (which is a tool that guides the Member States on specific gender equality issues) and to the EU 2020 Strategy, which is the EU strategy for the next 10 years with respect to employment and economic growth
  • Secondly, the Charter should be carried by a visible, target driven platform with a budget that can look at the implementation and do a follow up
  • Finally, this Charter should go beyond the issues of women on the labour market and women in politics. It should include the issue of health (labour, reproductive and care), research, science, finance, development, environment, trade, migration, violence, media and IT.

I am really pleased to notice that Mr Barroso was very open to listening to our ideas and he gives the impression that the Charter should be the starting point for a longer process of gender mainstreaming such as in the EU 2020 strategy and in the upcoming strategy on gender equality in which he believes we can and should have clear targets and time frames. 

However, it emerges from a second meeting with Commissioner for fundamental Rights Viviane Reding this week that she remains reluctant and believes that the document on the Charter should have no involvement of the European Parliament and will remain a symbolic document only. This is quite disappointing – to not say “shocking” that she's not ready to work with the EP, which represents the voice of the European citizens who clearly support the idea of a charter.

Together with other groups, which I have started to consult, PES Women will put the pressure on the Commission in order to guarantee a strong commitment on this issue - I can guarantee this to you!

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