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Alert on backlash against women’s rights: EWL delegation meets Commissioner Reding and cabinet member of EU President Van Rompuy
[Brussels, 9 April 2014] A delegation of members of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) met with two key representatives of the European Union to discuss gender equality. On Friday 4 April, they met with Ms Sarah Nelen from the cabinet of the President of the European Union, Mr Herman Van Rompuy. On Wednesday 9 April, they met with EU Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding. On both occasions, the EWL delegation, headed by EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum, delivered a strong message calling on reinforced commitment of the European institutions to achieve gender equality and protect and promote women’s rights.
At the meeting with Ms Sarah Nelen, EWL members highlighted the growing attacks on women’s rights, materialising through a backlash of policies denying gender equality and especially women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and detrimental effects of the crisis and austerity measures on women’s lives and institutional mechanisms for gender equality. They also pointed out that there is a lack of consistency between EU external and internal policies: while the EU develops strong messages about gender equality outside Europe, including at UN level, it has a weak approach to gender equality within its boarders, with a lack of harmonised action on many issues, such as violence against women or women’s economic independence. Sarah Nelen stressed on the need to support more women in decision-making and equal participation at the top jobs of the European institutions. This is exactly the goal of the EWL campaign for parity democracy. Sarah Nelen also confirmed the commitment of Mr Van Rompuy to gender equality and women’s rights. The delegation handed over a document with the articles of the EU Treaty and Charter of Fundamental Rights refering to equality between women and men.
The EWL delegation that met with Ms Reding, on 9 April, was composed of EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum, Soroptimist representative Claire Pahaut, and Business and Professional Women Europe representative Amélie Leclercq, as well as three members of EWL Secretariat: Acting Coordinator Pierrette Pape, Policy Officer Irene Rosales and Communications Officer Elvira Buijink.
Ms Reding thanked the EWL, Soroptimist and BPW for their work, highlighting their role in supporting women’s networking and leadership. The Commissioner called on the EWL to continue pushing for an EU directive on women on boards and to monitor the realisation of equal pay in the Member States. She informed that she has asked the European Institute for Gender Equality to collect consistent data on violence against women. She shared her worry with regards recent attacks on women’s rights, such as sexual harassment at work, and the persistence of stereotypes. The EWL delegation thanked Ms Reding for her work as Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, and her commitment on the issues where the EU can make a difference when it comes to gender equality. Ms Reding also received the EWL frame with the articles of the EU Treaty and Charter of Fundamental Rights referring to equality between women and men.