EWL News

EWL meets with European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding

[Brussels, 24 February 2012] On 22 February, representatives of the EWL Secretariat met with Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding, who is also the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship and in charge of gender equality issues in the EC. Carrying out the voices of 2000 women’s organizations in Europe, the EWL also brought to the attention of the Vice-President the hope that women have in Europe.

As stated on her website, one of Vice-President Reding’s objectives is to be a strong Gender Equality Vice-President in order to progress towards equality throughout the Union and in all fields of EU policy. The EWL reiterated its support to the Vice-President for her work for women’s rights, especially in times of crisis. “The EWL is an instrumental network to get European messages to all women and to bring the voices of women to the EU level”, Vice-President Reding said.

The EWL highlighted four main issues during the meeting:

Funding for women’s rights and gender equality: The EWL wants to see predictable and sustainable funding, and a clear political message that EU funding addresses gender equality and violence against women. Vice-President Reding reiterated her support and commitment to ensure the same amount of funding as is currently the same both for policies and for European networks in the future EU funding on Rights and Citizenship. She proposed to work more closely with the EWL on this issue to integrate the concerns of women’s organisations.

Maternity leave is an instrumental social right for all women in Europe but the adoption of the proposal by EU institutions to improve current provision has been blocked since the end of 2010. The EWL stressed again the need to move on with a strong proposal ensuring full-pay during maternity leave, which would play a key role as regards women’s employment, economic growth and closing the gender pay and pension gap. Vice-President Reding said that she was very supportive of improving the situation in this area and is ready to work constructively with the Council and the European Parliament.

Violence against women: Data show that violence against women is still the most pervasive human rights violation in Europe, despite any EU action to end it. The EWL believes that the added-value of an EU action would lie in bringing a harmonised definition of violence against women, in order to have all women in Europe benefit from the same protection and to end impunity. Vice-President Reding expressed her support to EWL’s analysis and said that she will look at the issue with more attention to reflect on measures to complement the forthcoming EU awareness raising campaign on violence against women.

Parity on corporate boards is a democracy and human rights issue: Vice-President Reding will soon unveil her strategy on women on boards, which will go along EWL’s recommendations on women in decision-making, and she is very supportive of more parity within the European Commission.

The EWL is looking forward for continued collaboration with Vice-President Reding, and regular meetings to assess the common work towards equality between women and men and the promotion of women’s rights in Europe.

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