On its plenary session of 8 March, the European Parliament wanted to commit its awareness towards the conditions of women in Europe.
David Sassoli, the Italian elected President of the EP, started the International Women Day Celebration reminding that during these challenging times posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, women have been at the forefront of the fight and not just because they predominate in the healthcare sector. Many had found themselves in insecure or precarious jobs, which have disappeared or changed with the crisis. In addition, the continuing lock-downs have led to an increase in domestic violence.
To emphasize Europe Commitment to address such precarious situation, Sassoli continued with a quote of the French writer Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986). “N’oubliez jamais qu’il suffira d’une crise politique, économique ou religieuse pour que les droits des femmes soient remis en question. Ces droits ne sont jamais acquis. Vous devrez rester vigilantes votre vie durant.”
(Never forget that a political, economic or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You will have to stay vigilant your whole life).
He waka eke noa : We are all in this together
The challenges posed by the Coronavirus has exacerbated the structural inequalities that disproportionally impact women and girls.
First to intervene, the prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern highlighted how important it is for all of us to work together to succeed in an economy recover that can also put people at the centre of decision making, thus proving the power and importance of the collective.
Representing the United States, the Vice-President Kamala Harris remarked the injustices created by the pandemic, exposing the victims among women. “Our world does not yet work for women as it should.” pointed out the VP. To reverse that, we must come together to ensure women safety at home and in every community, assuring equal dignity and accessibility into society.
It should not be a day for rhetoric, it should be a day for commitment
Finally, remarking on the words of Sassoli “It should not be a day for rhetoric, it should be a day for commitment”, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, listed all the accomplishments of women, girls and mothers, who excelled in isolation during the lockdown.
Reinforcing Europe commitment to sustain women as much as women sustain Europe, von der Leyen addressed the already known injustice on gender-gap salaries, exposing a 14% difference with the male counterpart, spread across the EU. To counter this, the EC proposed a European directive for pay transparency built on two simple principles, equal work deserves equal pay and for equal pay, you need transparency.
Moreover, renewed efforts will target the gender employment gap (67% for women and 78% for men), with the objective of cutting it in half and by the end of this decade reach the 78% of all employed.
“It will only be a true recovery if these plans are for all… We must show to every child in Europe that there are no limits to who can lead and held positions of power in our Union, regardless of colour or gender”