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MEPs quizz Reding over Commission work programme on gender equality

[European Parliament, Brussels, 16 March 2011] Quotas for higher representation of women in company boards, reducing pay gap between men and women, combating violence against women and maternity leave were among the core issues MEPs debated with Commissioner Viviane Reding in the Women’s Rights Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Transparency of pay

For the year 2010, women had to work 64 days more than men to earn the same salary as men, said Mrs Reding, stressing that transparency was needed and every single European citizen must be aware of it. Franziska BRANTNER (Greens/EFA, DE) pointed out to the need of transparency in companies related to pay gap between men and women and proper legislative steps recommended for years to be implemented.

Concerned about transparency of equal pay for work of equal value, Britta THOMSEN (S&D, BK) questioned whether Commission will come up with tools or new definitions on this matter.


Barbara MATERA (EPP, IT) asked Commissioner Reding whether Commission will think about other measures than quotas to facilitate access for women to company boards. Mrs Reding indicated that in the discussion with chief executives and chairs of boards of publicly listed companies on the under-representation of women in boards on 1 March, the majority of participants stood ready to commit on voluntary basis to increase women’s participation in boardrooms to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020. Commissioner Reding however mentioned that she was already working on legislative documents to be ready if needed in 2012.

Referring to quotas, Nicole SINCLAIRE (NI, UK) stressed that also positive discrimination would create victims.

"Victims’ Rights Package" - Female genital mutilation FGM

Commissioner Viviane Reding highlighted the "Victims’ Rights Package" to be presented on 11 May, including legal and financial measures and a roadmap for the future work.

Emine BOZKURT (S&D, NL) quizzing Commissioner Reding about proposals of EU strategy for combating all forms of violence against women, including protection of violence victims of traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, and how to implement them, Mrs Reding indicated that there would be legal text on FGM in 2013.

Maternity leave

Mentioning EP’s adopted proposals for extending maternity leave being unblocked in Council, Ilda FIGUEIREDO (GUE/NGL, PT) wanted to know how EP could increase pressure on Council to move in this issue. Commissioner Reding proposed to start discussion on the "passerelle" clause as a possible way out. EP should try to tangle with Council, not Commission, she said.

The costs of paternity leave could be covered if there were a 1.4% increase of female participation in the labour market, Edite ESTRELA (S&D, PT) commented.

Female poverty

Antonyia PARVANOVA (ALDE, BG) stressed that she would like to see more commitment for the European Commission to combat female poverty.

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