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PES Women President’s blog

Meeting role models across the Atlantic; inspiring and engaging!

Lakshmi Puri, Zita Gurmai

My third visit to the US this year took place thanks to the invitation as special guest to the 33rd Annual Parties of Your Choice Gala organised by the Women’s Campaign Fund, a cross-party initiative to support women to run for office. The Women’s Campaign Fund, presided by the inspiring Sam Bennett, has a philosophy to be summarised by 5 key words; Early, At all Levels, Bipartisan, Bold and Diverse. I believe this is exactly the same approach we need for European Women with just over a year away from European Elections.

We can never be early enough to mobilise women, young and old, to join in campaigning for and with women. With only one year ahead, I call on all women out there to get already involved in national parties but also as PES Activists and find out what they can do to have their voice heard. We need women activists, women running for elections as Members of the European Parliament and after the elections, women candidates for Commissioners and, personally, I will be campaigning for and encourage women at all levels. With the European Women’s Lobby, I have already started the 50/50 campaign, because it is true that from a democratic point of view, women’s representation should be assured across all parties. Democratically speaking we need to improve the work of reflecting and representing our society’s diversity. But my heart lies within the social democratic family. I would like to recall that as Progressives, we have been and will remain to be the front runners for women’s rights and gender equality. The PES takes its values and principle boldly and engaged for 2014 to be the party for women and have a specific campaign on closing the Gender Pay Gap.

While we are slowly getting into pre-election approach and focussing on European elections, I remain engaged in women’s issues around the world and have taken the time to meet Lakshmi Puri, the Acting Head of UN Women and Zainab Hawa Bangura, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Ms Lakshmi Puri ensured me that the Common Status for Women (CSW) was a success thanks to the unity of Europe, but that this unity needs to remain in all fields. The EU – as PES Women has always advocated – needs to fully engage in combating violence against women, this year’s CSW theme. PES Women will continue urging for a comprehensive strategy on combating gender based violence and a specific European year for combating violence against women (link to EWL campaign blog). Ms Bangura, who has taken over from Margot Wallström, thanked the EU’s High Representative, Ms Ashton in her efforts and engagement to put gender equality on the agenda of the EU’s External relations. Ms Bangura, a grass root woman, has shown me a true commitment in continuing Margot’s work and will make ‘national ownership and leadership’ as the sixth priority of her work. I look forward to welcome Ms Bangura next month in Brussels to build on the partnerships that have been established.

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