Manifesto for a Feminist Europe

Will Europe Work for Women? A reflection of Making Europe work for women event

[Brussels 17 September 2019] The European Women’s Lobby was very proud to organise a public event in June 2019 gathering many incredible women directly after the European elections to discuss the elections’ impact on women’s rights and how we could make Europe work for all women in the coming years.

The EWL event was planned during EWL’s European Women’s Forum in order to have our members and the audience engage with five women who have very specific and interesting insights on how to improve and further women’s rights both at the national and European level. Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, former French Minister for Women’s rights, introduced the discussion after our President, Gwendoline Lefebvre, opened the event: she told us about her own experience in French politics and the difficulty of getting the topic of women’s equality on the political agenda. She also shared her thoughts on the importance of feminist alliances to change the patriarchal structures at all levels. Joining her, the panel was composed of soprano and concert singer and activist Ms Barbara Hendricks, MEP Frances Fitzgerald, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen and Adviser to European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Ms Monika Ladmanova. EWL Secretary General Joanna Maycock moderated the passionate discussion on what has been achieved by the European Union, the challenges and innovative solutions to overcome them together. We were happy to see that the audience truly engaged with the discussion and we hope it was the basis of many others conversations on this crucial subject.

This event took place during a crucial moment, right after the European elections. The European Women’s Lobby was particularly pleased with the results of the European elections: indeed, a record number of women are elected, now representing 41% of the Members of European Parliament. It is of course still not enough but it is a bold step forward, especially considering issues surrounding women’s rights were more considered and discussed during this election campaign than ever before. The first ever woman in European history was elected President of the European Commission – Ursula von der Leyen- and already committed to a 50/50 College of Commissioners as well as getting the EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention, among other measures: we warmly welcome these promises and will keep on working to ensure they are actually implemented.

We are currently in a decisive period: soon, we will know more about the potential Commissioners and their portfolios. The European Women’s Lobby has been working on the issue of gender mainstreaming for years now and hopes the portfolios will reflect this obligation the EU has and that all Commissioners will commit to achieve this, helped with a Commissioner focused solely on the issue of equality between women and men. At the same time, we are asking the EU to show its strong commitment to equality between women and men by adopting a political strategy on this subject, which is necessary to ensure the issue is not left aside and forgotten. More than ever, there are big opportunities to make sure women are not treated as second-class citizens anymore and for real progress to be made: the EWL is committed to make the most of those and work closely with our allies in the European institutions, notably the FEMM committee in the European Parliament, and above so that no woman is left behind

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