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PES Women President’s blog

Is that it? Commissioner Reding, let me tell you we want more!

Last Tuesday, Commissioner responsible for gender equality and women’s rights Viviane Reding came to exchange views with the European Parliaments Women’s Rights Committee and answer its numerous questions.

Among other subjects, the MEPs especially mentioned their concerns about the weak “Women’s Charter” communicated by the Commission the 8th of March. Reding has remained unwavering, describing the Charter as a “Statement of Faith” and “that’s it!”, that is aiming at reiterating the commitment of the Commission towards gender mainstreaming. This approach is not satisfactory enough. First of all, because she lets pending questions unanswered and a growing disappointment on MEPs side, in spite of promises of welcoming criticism this autumn, on the upcoming follow-up of Roadmap on Gender Equality, seen by Commissioner as the Action Plan for Gender Equality for the coming years.

Fact is, representatives and civil society do not want to “only criticize” Commission’s plans but to participate, elaborate, discuss and feed into the drafting of a first proposal, bringing positive elements along with respect of the Lisbon Treaty provisions, which is seen as an improvement. Secondly, because I strongly believe that we need a Women’s Charter that goes further than a statement of faith and a political agreement between Commissioners. Women’s rights go beyond maternity leave and the gender pay gap. We need to go further and look at women’s rights in the field of science and research, finance and economics, migration and environment. And that is it!

Trying to sidestep the issue of the lack of reference to gender equality in the EU 2020 Strategy, which presents the economic and social priorities of the Commission for the ten coming years, she explained us that this document is only an overview, and that concrete elements should be added afterwards and by Commissioner for Social Affairs. Relying on other Commissioners was also her excuse not to have any answers to issues such as the development cooperation to the charge of Commissioner for aid.

The fact is gender mainstreaming, while advocating the gender issue to be part of all the other issues, is an ideal. Truth is we can only notice that women are often not taken into account this way and Mrs Reding is demonstrating this again to us. Women are falling in the gloomy gaps between portfolios, between issues, between policies. In addition we can ask ourselves why is there no reference to Gender Equality in the Europe 2020 Strategy, if the so-called Commission Charter statement commits to gender mainstreaming in all policy-fields?

Anyway, Gender Mainstreaming should definitively not be an excuse for Mrs Reding not to take her responsibility to ensure gender mainstreaming not to be only a political agreement, but a reality in all policy areas.

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