Public debate in Europe is getting worse, putting our endurance as a union to the test and threatening our future. Solidarity, unity, peace and freedom, social and civil rights, and equal treatment of women and men are all the result of years of commitment from generations who fought bravely and sacrificed themselves for the sake of one, visionary common project: the European Union. Today, however, the real uncertainty of our present times has left our Union vulnerable to power-hungry, unimaginative politicians who do not share the same feeling of responsibility towards our common future. Meanwhile, violent and sensationalist language in the media feeds into spirals of hate and resignation, detracting attention from the urgent issues that need to be tackled. Together, we need to fight to:
- fight social inequality;
- guarantee decent working conditions;
- distribute the benefits of scientific and technological progress;
- foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The economic crisis of 2008 has deeply changed the living conditions of millions of European citizens, compromising economic growth, productivity, and social inclusion throughout the European Union. The increase of social inequality that has followed has marginalised women to a greater degree and has had severe repercussions at all levels of our society.
Putting female leadership at the heart of the European agenda in the 2019 European elections is key to stopping this negative spiral getting out of control. These elections will be an indispensable opportunity to relaunch the European project, enabling citizens to reclaim and actively participate in it. In order to make all of this happen, it is necessary that those who have the right to vote, exercise this right. This is especially pertinent to women who are too often absent from the European stage.
In the history of the European Union, there has never been a female President of the European Commission, of the European Council, of the European Central Bank, or of Eurogroup. The European Parliament has only ever had two female Presidents. This clearly shows the insignificant and marginal political and institutional representation of women in Europe.
This is why we, as European women, are willing to commit to the governance of the European Union, thereby strengthening its democratic institutions and legitimacy. We want to build anotHer Europe that hallmarks women’s identity, maintains the memory of our historical fight for our rights, and builds a future that finally represents all Europeans. The realisation of real and lasting change is only possible if we transform the individual strength of women into a political force that ultimately brings women to the fore.
For this reason, EWA calls on European parties, and the women who work in them, to commit to guaranteeing equal representation and supporting female leadership as a priority in the 2019 European elections. These priorities should be demonstrated through the nomination of more women to high-ranking and executive positions in the EU.
It is time for women to take political and managerial responsibility in the future of the EU, so as to strongly reaffirm European values of peace, democracy, progress, sustainable growth, and social justice, and make these values the framework for every future action of the EU.
EWA calls on:
- All women in Europe to exercise their voting right in the 2019 European elections in order to realise real and lasting change and to transform the individual strength of women into a united political force;
- European political parties to ensure gender balance in the electoral lists;
- Member States to indicate a female and a male candidate for each position of Commissioner, so that the composition of the European Commission has a fair representation of gender;
- EU Member States to respect the gender balance in the appointment and renewal of institutional posts, resulting in the nomination of women to top positions in the EU institutions;
- Member States to set up a Council of Ministers for Gender Equality whose mission would be to guarantee women’s rights and equal opportunities for women and men in Europe, and ensure the application of a gender mainstream approach to all EU policies, providing intersectional indicators and ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments.
We are aware that the fair representation of gender is not enough to strengthen the European Union. For this reason, we are determined that European women should take the lead in tackling structural marginalisation based on gender and create anotHer Europe founded on:
ECONOMIC RESOURCES FOR A EUROPEAN GENDER BUDGET
- A gender budget needs to be allocated within the European budget and in the Multiannual Financial Framework in order to support public policies and programmes that tackle economic and social inequalities between women and men. In addition, national reform and stability/convergence programmes addressed to Member States, within the framework of the European Semester, have to contain quantitative and qualitative indicators to evaluate the participation of women in the economy, employment, and economic growth. This should be with the aim of adopting measures aimed at preventing and correcting gender inequalities.
DECENT WORKING CONDITIONS AND WELFARE AFFORDED ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS
- Equal pay for work of equal value. The disparity in wages and pensions between men and women has to be tackled with a long-term European strategy that fights against professional desertion, the marginalisation of women in precarious and low-wage jobs, professional discontinuity, and consequent exposure to poverty and social exclusion. It is necessary to introduce a European minimum wage also extended to those who are dedicated to the care of children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.
- Remunerate during periods of professional interruption if work has to be stopped due to the care of a family member. Recognise pension rights deriving from care labour.
- Provide equal parental support, even in unemployment and precarious working conditions, by including and promoting measures that allow for childcare responsibilities to be shared equally. Encourage the implementation of universal parental leave in order to reduce the pressure on women as the primary early caregiver; reduce stigma on men who wish to take parental leave; legally and socially allow real sharing of parental responsibilities, thereby enabling mothers to more easily maintain or return to full time employment; and ensure greater sharing of family responsibilities between all couples.
- Guarantee full participation of people in their society and economy and ensure that this right is fully recognised and made visible in the decision-making process of the EU. This should be achieved by guaranteeing high quality, universal systems of social protection that ensure adequate minimum income. The objective of minimum income is not simply to assist, but to accompany beneficiaries from periods of social exclusion into an active life, thereby avoiding long-term dependency.
- Promote a modern and efficient welfare state capable of responding and adapting to technological changes. Universal public services and their use should be dedicated to supporting both individuals and families, helping to achieve social inclusion, promoting social innovation, prioritising the fight against poverty, and fundamentally helping to establish high standards of living for all.
INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN IN MANAGERIAL POSITIONS
- Increase the number of women on the boards of European companies by introducing a new target that ensures that a minimum of 40% of board members of stock market companies are female. The reluctance to nominate women to board positions is rooted in a business culture dominated by men and by a lack of transparency in the recruitment process. These elements compromise the optimal functioning of the labour market in the EU in terms of management, performance, and investors’ trust.
INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING TO ENABLE EVERYONE TO BENEFIT FROM THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
- Investment in human capital is essential to enhancing the quality and quantity of positions occupied by women. Starting from primary school and continuing throughout their professional life, it is necessary to offer and implement a training system that is aimed at enhancing and updating the professional qualifications of women and accompanying them during transition periods in our constantly changing world. Financial literacy and training in STEM subjects is essential.
INTEGRATION OF MIGRANT WOMEN
- Establish a new and coherent set of European guidelines to be adopted within the framework of a vast reform in migration and asylum policy that purposefully takes gender into account. Every form of violence against women must constitute a valid reason for obtaining asylum in European Member States. Female refugees and migrants need to be beneficiaries of specific measures to facilitate their access to education and the labour market, in order to better foster their social, cultural, and economic integration.
To make all this happen, join the women who are building anotHer Europe for all citizens!