"I turned 18 the exact day the Berlin wall fell. I will never forget those images full of excitement. At last the division of Europe was over. What would be the next stage for Europe after the last symbol of division was finally destroyed? I have been deeply marked by this event, which I considered as the first step of my political commitment. I thought that everything was possible; the power of change was really in our hands. A few years later, I had my first child while in university. I experienced how difficult it was to balance family responsibilities with studying, and even more so when I looked for a job. How I was supposed to do? There was a lack of public and private childcare facilities fulfilling the needs of working women. That was enough for me. I was 23 and I was angry because politicians did nothing for women’s equal participation to the labour market at that time. In 1995, I became an activist in the French socialist party for a deep change in our society.
It’s time, more than ever, to (re)shape power in Europe. Last year was a pivotal year with the result that gender relations have shifted forever. This positive momentum for women’s right has to continue. First we need to achieve a genuine gender equality since no country has fully achieved it in Europe. It means mobilising the necessary resources to achieve equality by mainstreaming gender into all our policies and actions. It should be a transversal priority in each and every legislation since it is a core value of the European Union and since we represent half of the humanity! It seems obvious but we still need to convince many colleagues and governments that it is for the benefit of the whole society.
Many women inspired me in the course of my political career but I first think of Simone Veil and Emma Bonino for having deeply changed women’s lives with abortion right. They gave us the right to decide for our own bodies and lives. Don’t forget that Emma Bonino fought for abortion in the shadow of the Vatican! Christiane Taubira also stood against reactionary forces when she legalized same-sex marriages in France. They have been personally attacked, verbally abused and sometimes harassed and yet, they never gave up. I admire their determination and their free minds."
In the run-up to the launch of our campaign ’50:50 Women for Europe, Europe for Women’ on June 7, we are publishing stories of women in politics in Europe. Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy is a Member of the European Parliament. She will be speaking at our event. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.