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European Women’s Lobby launches new project on Women’s Social Entrepreneurship in Europe

Posted on 17 November 2014

European Women's Lobby launches new project on Women's Social Entrepreneurship in Europe

On November 19TH, the United Nations Global Day on Women’s Entrepreneurship, the European Women’s Lobby will launch their latest project WEstart: Mapping Women’s Social Entrepreneurship in Europe.

The core aim of the new, privately funded, year-long pilot projectis to gain a better understanding of the situation and state of play of women’s social entrepreneurship in Europe. Focusing on ten European countries, WEstart is the first step in a longer term strategy to help foster women’s social entrepreneurship by connecting social entrepreneurs and advocating for policy change that supports women’s leadership in this growing sector.

Mapped countries include Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Sweden, Lithuania, Hungary and Italy. The initial mapping will ensure that attention to paid to providing an urban-rural balance, diversity among women social entrepreneurs (for example, include women from ethnic communities), the type of initiatives covered, the type of legal status that governs ‘social entrepreneurship’, the resources available at country and European level, the needs and gaps identified, the barriers and the strengths.

The European Women’s Lobby is excited to embark on this new project, which has already generated a great deal of interest both from member, as well as outside organizations. Joanna Mayock, EWL Secretary General remarked,

“A feminist analysis of the state of play of women’s social entrepreneurship in Europe is both vital and relevant as the European Union looks to find ways to address both mass scale unemployment and growing social exclusion. As we seek to promote a feminist economy and a new way of approaching income-generation and employment, we need to understand the risks and opportunities women-led, women-focused social enterprises present. Our position as the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU) puts us in a prime spot to do so.”


Note to editors: The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and the three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations.

For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact Emily Usher, Project Manager WEstrat, European Women’s Lobby; Tel: +32 2 210 04 40; usher@womenlobby.org, and see www.womenlobby.org. / (+32) 02/217 90 20

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From words to action: women can’t wait 20 more years to enjoy their full human rights

The Beijing+20 report of the European Women’s Lobby calls for urgent comprehensive EU action to realise gender equality

Posted on 13 November 2014

From words to action: women can't wait 20 more years to enjoy their full human rights

[Lisbon, 10 October 2014] Today, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) launched its report “1995-2015: From Words to Action” which assesses the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in Europe, 20 years after its adoption by the international community. The launch of EWL Beijing+20 report took place in the context of the Annual Meeting of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation for women’s rights in Europe.

Adopted two years after the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, the Beijing Platform for Action aimed to bring into light the structural inequalities and human rights violations faced by all women and girls on the planet, and setting the ground for concrete action to realise de jure and de facto equality between women and men. The report of the European Women’s Lobby provides a picture of the situation of women and girls in the European Union (EU), based on the collective assessment of its 2000 member organisations.

EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum said: “20 years later, much has been achieved, but much remains to be done. While we should be celebrating the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, our report shows that women and girls still face inequality, violence, discrimination and insecurity. Women and girls can’t wait 20 more years to enjoy their full human rights.”

Hosted by the Lisbon Municipality, the event gathered strong statements from: Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Portuguese Secretary of State of Parliamentary Affairs and Equality Teresa Morais; representatives of the Italian Presidency of the EU; Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality Virginija Langbakk; and Member of the European Parliament Ana Gomes.

The celebration of Beijing+20 comes at a strategic time for the women’s movement and the EU policies on gender equality. In 2015, a new international framework for development will be adopted, with new Sustainable Development Goals, amongst which women’s rights and gender equality will be the subject of a standalone goal. At EU level, a new strategy for gender equality needs to be adopted from 2016 on.

“The European Union, as part of the international community, is at a turning policy point: it must choose to lead the way towards a gender equal and sustainable future. Investing in women’s rights and empowerment is the core commitment for a more sustainable, democratic and inclusive world to evolve. We call on the future EU Commissioner for Gender Equality to build on the recommendations outlined in our Beijing+20 report to develop an ambitious new strategy for all women and girls in Europe to enjoy their full human rights” , said EWL Secretary General Joanna Maycock.


For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact Elvira Buijink, Communications and Media Officer, European Women’s Lobby; Tel: +32 2 210 04 40; buijink@womenlobby.org, and see www.womenlobby.org.

For interviews in Lisbon, contact Elvira Buijink, 0032 496 86 48 26, or Pierrette Pape, 0032 486 39 17 17.

Note to editors:

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU Member States and three of the candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations.

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Media Advisory - 4 years overdue, it’s time to deliver

Posted on 17 October 2014

Media Advisory - 4 years overdue, it's time to deliver

[Brussels, 17 October]

Attn: News Editor RE: Tuesday 21.10.14 - 14:00 – 15:00 pm – Demonstration to mark the 4th anniversary of the Maternity Leave Directive – let’s call on the EU decision-makers to deliver now! In front of the European Parliament, Strasbourg

4 YEARS OVERDUE – IT’S TIME TO DELIVER! It’s time for better maternity rights for all women in Europe

WHO The European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), will be in Strasbourg to call on the new European Commission and the Council of the European Union to move ahead on the adoption of the new Maternity Leave Directive.

WHY • The proposed Maternity Leave Directive was adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in its first reading on 20th October 2014. • It has nonetheless been blocked by Member State governments in the Council of the EU for four years. • The Commissioner-designate for Justice, Consumers and Gender Vera Jourova, and the Commissioner-designate for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Market Mobility Marianna Thyssen, committed to engage the European Commission in unblocking the negotiations with the Council of the EU. • The proposal provides a number of forward-looking measures including 20 weeks fully paid maternity leave, strengthened measures to protect women from dismissal on return and two weeks fully paid paternity leave also available to same sex couples. • Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life-long often irreversible consequences, including the fact that women receive on average 40% less pension than men. • Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work.

WHY NOW • The 20th October marks the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Maternity Leave Directive by the European Parliament in its first reading. • The Commissioners-designate Vera Jourova and Marianne Thyssen took a strong stand on the issue. The European Women’s Lobby calls them on making their commitment a reality as soon as the new College of Commissioners is approved by the European Parliament.

HOW • 14:00: Gathering in front of the European Parliament • 14:15 – 14:30: Speeches by Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General, and Members of the European Parliament from different political groups • 15:00: End of the event

Opportunities for interviews: • Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General • Mary Collins, Policy Officer on Economics and Social Policy

For more information, you can: • visit EWL website : www.womenlobby.org • Follow EWL through Twitter : @EuropeanWomen


ends------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact: • Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer, buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 40, +32 (0)496 86 48 26 • Jessica Machacova, EWL Policy Officer, machacova@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 28, +33 (0)7 78 34 59 55 • Mary Collins, EWL Policy Officer Economics and Social Policy & Membership Coordinator, collins@womenlobby.org, +32 (0)2/210 04 20

Note to editors: The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations. More information: www.womenlobby.org

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SOS – DELIVER NOW! Bring back the Maternity Leave Directive

Posted on 23 September 2014

SOS – DELIVER NOW! Bring back the Maternity Leave Directive

[Brussels, 23 September 2014] At the eve of the forthcoming hearings of the new European Commission, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) calls on the new Commission in particular Ms Jourova Commissioner responsible for Gender Equality, and Ms Thyssen Commissioner responsible for Employment, to save the Maternity Leave Directive, which has been on the table since 2010 and recently threatened to be withdrawn by the European Commission, in the name of red tape. We particularly expect that Commissioner Jourova, in her role as Commissioner responsible for Gender Equality a newly welcomed post in the future Commission, will act immediately and save the Maternity Leave Directive.

“The threat to remove the Maternity Leave Directive from the legislative process is serious as it negates Europe’s rhetoric on its commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe. Adopting a stronger maternity leave Directive would have a positive and direct benefit to millions of families and would send a positive message to people across the EU that it is committed to their rights.” states Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

The EWL invites everyone who wants to make their voice heard to save the Maternity Directive to bring it back on the European political agenda, to a “PHOTO BOOTH” event at the Esplanade in front of the European Parliament, between 12:30-14:30 on Wednesday 24th September to show SOLIDARITY for women in Europe.

“Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work.” stated Mary Collins, EWL Policy Officer “Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it is often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life- long often irreversible consequences, as their pension is 40% less than men.”

The European Women’s Lobby calls on all the European institutions to DELIVER NOW! Calls on the European Parliament to maintain its position, adopted by an overwhelming majority in 2010 and calls on the EU Member States to engage and move forward for a robust Maternity Directive to ensure that all women in Europe have equal rights.

Sign the online petition here. Tweet on the hashtag: #DeliverNow

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL)

The EWL is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. www.womenlobby.org

The Maternity leave Directive:

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive, adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in first reading on 20 October 2010, has been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years despite ongoing attempts to find a negotiated position and subsequent decision which never materialised.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive is an all-encompassing set of proposals to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers and women returning to work following childbirth and/or who are breastfeeding. These include, up to 20 weeks fully paid leave, a mandatory six-week rest period before or after birth whenever they choose, extension of the same rights to domestic workers and adoptive mothers, specific measures for multiple births and disabilities, protection from dismissal for six months, protection from imposed night shifts and overtime and flexibility for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, a two-week fully paid paternity leave provision is included in the European Parliament’s adopted position, which bridges the gap in relation to paternity leave (also available to same sex couples) as there is no European Directive on this form of leave. It should also be noted that a passerelle clause is included for countries where a strong parental leave framework is in place, which means that the reality of the situation in different countries is taken into account and that women who are pregnant, have given birth and/or who are breastfeeding have the same rights throughout the European Union.

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No More Excuses. Gender Equality after the elections – What’s next?

Hosted by MEP Ulrike Lunacek

Posted on 28 August 2014

Wednesday 9 July 2014, 13h - 18h Conference in the European Parliament, Brussels Room A1 G-3

[9 July 2014] Final conference of 50/50 and Parity Democracy for Europe Campaign: No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality!

Ahead of the May 2014 European Parliament elections, the European Women’s Lobby and partner organisations have been running parity campaigns to raise greater awareness of the importance of gender parity in politics.

Now, we know that the percentage of women in the European Parliament stands at almost 37%, this is a very small increase of 1,75% in comparison to the European elections in 2009. “At this pace it will take half a century until we reach gender parity” EWL Secretary General Joanna Maycock already stated with regards to these results.

This event will address the outcomes of the 2014 European Parliament elections from a gender perspective.

We hope that by the end of the day, you will have gained a better understanding of the state of play with regards to women in politics at national and EU level.

How can you support campaigns to boost women on their political path to ensure that more women reach political decision making positions across Europe?

At this event we will further discuss the impact of the Parity Democracy and European EWL 50/50 campaigns to measure the progress of these campaigns.

This conference on gender parity will test a series of principles that we have been developing around parity democracy. What are the challenges ahead and why it is important to have equal representation of women and men in positions of power?

We are delighted to announce that a keynote speech will be held by Jessica N. Grounds, former Executive Director and Co-Founder of Running Start, who will share US perspectives on achieving greater participation of women in politics.

Find here the programme of the day here & more information on the speakers.

Read the European Women’s Lobby Press Release on the European Parliament 2014 election results here

Media representatives with and without accreditation to the EU institutions are kindly requested to register here.

Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to associations in all 28 EU member states and 3 candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. www.womenlobby.org @EuropeanWomen

Partner organisations Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies Romanian Women’s Lobby Forum 50% Women Employment Information Centre

With the support of United States Mission to the European Union

Funded by The EU’s Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme The Progress Programme of the European Union Open Society Foundations

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Guy Verhofstadt endorses European Women’s Lobby’s elections Manifesto and 50/50 campaign

Posted on 28 August 2014

Thursday 8 May 2014, 12h30 European Women’s Lobby Headquarters, Brussels

[8 May 2014] Two weeks before the European elections, Guy Verhofstadt, candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission for the Liberal ALDE-party, officially backs the demands of the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union.

For the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) achieving substantive equality between women and men, promoting women’s rights and empowering women and girls should be an absolute priority of the European Union (EU) and its Member States.

The Manifesto "Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!" comprises the main concrete demands of the EWL for the coming European elections and calls for meaningful change towards equality for all. At the moment, it is endorsed by more than 40 MEPs and candidates.

The Manifesto makes three general demands: a comprehensive framework to achieve gender equality through notably the establishment of an EU Coordinator on women’s rights and gender equality; sustainable funding for gender equality; and credible EU policies on gender equality at international level. It also focuses on the importance of promoting women’s economic independence, the urgency for firm measures to end violence against women including through designating 2016 as the EU Year to End Violence against women and girls, the guarantee of equality in paid and unpaid work for men and women, and the taking into account of women’s diversity in needs.

Via the demands of its 50/50 campaign, the EWL additionally seeks to tackle the under-representation of women in EU decision-making, which it believes to be a serious democratic deficit for the EU as a whole. The 50/50 campaign aims to promote therefore the equal representation of women and men in all European institutions and to put women’s rights and gender equality high on the EU political agenda. The EWL urges the future European Commission President to present a gender-balanced College and the European Parliament to elect a gender-balanced Commission and guarantee parity in all the decision-making positions within its house.

Mr Verhofstadt will sign the Manifesto in the presence of EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum at the premises of the European Women’s Lobby, Rue Hydraulique 18, 1210 Brussels, on May 8 at 12h30.

For further information please contact: Elvira Buijink, Communications and Media Officer, European Women’s Lobby buijink@womenlobby.org, 02 210 04 40

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MY BODY, MY DECISIONS

Posted on 28 August 2014

Friday 04.04.2014 - 15:00 pm - Public action to defend abortion right in Europe Place du Luxembourg in front of the European Parliament Brussels

[4 April 2014] Women’s futures under threat: public action to defend abortion right in Europe

WHO On Friday 4 April 2014, more than 50 national women’s rights organisations, members of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) representing a total of more than 2000 organisations from all over Europe will be in Brussels to stand up together for the right to abortion.

WHY • The right to take informed decisions about one’s own life is a basic human right and a crucial matter for gender equality. • Recent developments in EU member states are detrimental to women’s rights. o In Spain in December 2013, the Council of Ministers approved a draft bill aiming at reforming the current law on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). If approved, abortion would be allowed in Spain only in the case of rape or if the pregnancy poses a serious physical or mental health risk to women. This would only cover 8% of the current cases of abortion. o In Lithuania, at the end of the spring session (May-June) the Lithuanian Parliament will vote on the adoption of the draft law on “Law on the protection of a life in a pre-natal phase” and accompanying legislative projects, otherwise known as the “abortion ban bill”. The law considers abortion a criminal act punishable for up to three years imprisonment. • The European Citizen’s Initiative One of Us calls on the EU to stop funding research activities that destroy human embryos and to stop all EU development aid for maternal health, on the argument that maternal health can on occasion lead to the facility of abortion services. This will immediately and substantially increase the number of unsafe abortions in the developing world, and thus increase the number of resulting horrific injuries and deaths. • The cases of individual women who have suffered the consequences of denied abortions in Europe and around the world may never be forgotten. The EWL refers to Savita Halappanavar (Ireland), Alicja Tysiac (Poland), Daniela (Spain), Valentina (Italy) but also to Beatriz in El Salvador and many others.

WHY NOW It is European elections time. 7 weeks before these elections, the EWL urges decision makers to recall that gender equality is an essential part of democracy, social justice, human rights and dignity. Find here the EWL Manifesto “Act for her future, commit for gender equality!”. The European Institutions have the power and should take the responsibility to create meaningful change towards equality for all, now and in the future.

HOW • 15:00h: Gathering on the square of Place du Luxembourg, Brussels. • 15:15h: Picture opportunity: all participants will form together a big ♀shape and will hold balloons and a banner to represent their country and organisation. • 15:25h: Speech by Viviane Teitelbaum, president of the European Women’s Lobby. • 15.30h: We will speak out for the individual women who have suffered the consequences of denied abortions in Europe: Savita Happanavar (Ireland), Alicja Tysiac (Poland), Daniela (Spain), Valentina (Italy), Marie (France). • 15:40h: A delegation will leave to meet the Cabinet of President Van Rompuy and hand over a version of the articles related to gender equality in the European Union Treaties. Also on Wednesday 9 April, a EWL delegation will meet Ms Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission. • 15:40h: Participants will distribute to the public flyers on the action and the EWL Manifesto for the Elections. • 15:55h: Event closed with the sound of our whistles calling for action towards gender equality.

Opportunities for interviews: • Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the EWL and of Conseil des Femmes francophones de Belgique (CFFB) • Pierrette Pape, Acting coordinator of the European Women’s Lobby

For more information, you can: • Visit EWL website : www.womenlobby.org • Follow EWL through Twitter : @EuropeanWomen

For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact: • Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer, buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 40, +32 (0)496 86 48 26 • Irene Rosales, EWL Policy Officer, rosales@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 25, +32 (0)479 49 61 64 • Pierrette Pape, Acting Coordinator of the European Women’s Lobby, pape@womenlobby.org, +32 (0)2/210 04 26

Note to editors: The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations. More information: www.womenlobby.org

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Threats to withdraw the Maternity Leave Directive: Measures to protect women’s rights are not red tape

Posted on 28 August 2014

[Brussels, 4 July 2014] The European Women’s Lobby cries scandal as the rhetoric on women’s rights and gender equality takes a blow.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), has learned with dismay about the European Commission’s proposal to withdraw the proposed Maternity Leave Directive, as a gesture of ‘legislative management’ before the new Commission is installed. “This is a classic example of the backlash against women’s rights and gender equality in Europe. It sends a very bad signal to women and men in Europe about how much the EU can do to support real people’s rights and lives.” says Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive was adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in its first reading on 20 October 2010. It has nonetheless been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years. The proposal provides a number of forward-looking measures including 20 weeks fully paid maternity leave, strengthened measures to protect women from dismissal on return and two weeks fully paid paternity leave also available to same sex couples (see note to editors).

“The threat to remove the Maternity Leave Directive from the legislative process is serious and undermines the democratic process of the European Parliament’s adopted position. This negates Europe’s rhetoric on its commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe”, states Joanna Maycock.

Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life- long often irreversible consequences, including the fact that women receive on average 40% less pension than men. Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work. “It is unacceptable that measures to protect women’s rights are part of a trade-off to cut red tape: women’s rights are NOT red tape.” states Ms Maycock.

In an Open Letter to the newly designated President of the European Commission, the EWL calls on Mr Juncker to reject this proposal to withdraw the Maternity Leave Directive, immediately reinstate the proposal and to give his full commitment to reaching a decision with the Council. We expect the newly elected European Parliament will react strongly against this proposal and will work with the Italian Presidency towards achieving a favourable conclusion.

Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL)

The EWL is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. www.womenlobby.org

The Maternity leave Directive:

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive, adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in first reading on 20 October 2010, has been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years despite ongoing attempts to find a negotiated position and subsequent decision which never materialised.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive is an all-encompassing set of proposals to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers and women returning to work following childbirth and/or who are breastfeeding. These include, up to 20 weeks fully paid leave, a mandatory six-week rest period before or after birth whenever they choose, extension of the same rights to domestic workers and adoptive mothers, specific measures for multiple births and disabilities, protection from dismissal for six months, protection from imposed night shifts and overtime and flexibility for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, a two-week fully paid paternity leave provision is included in the European Parliament’s adopted position, which bridges the gap in relation to paternity leave (also available to same sex couples) as there is no European Directive on this form of leave. It should also be noted that a passerelle clause is included for countries where a strong parental leave framework is in place, which means that the reality of the situation in different countries is taken into account and that women who are pregnant, have given birth and/or who are breastfeeding have the same rights throughout the European Union.

Find this articleon our website See EWL Maternity Leave Campaign

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Europe’s small steps towards 50/50

Posted on 12 June 2014

Europe's small steps towards 50/50

[Brussels, 4 June 2014] Europe’s small steps towards 50/50 Number of women in the European Parliament increases by 1,75%: at this pace it will take half a century until we reach gender parity

One week after the European Parliament elections, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and its members has been analysing the election results with regards to the representation of elected women elected to the European Parliament. The percentage of women in the EP, the only directly elected institution of the European Union (EU), stands at almost 37%, this is an increase of 1,75% in comparison to the European elections in 2009.

EWL Secretary General, Joanna Maycock, states “with this snail’s pace it will be another half a century before the European Parliament would reach gender parity in 52 years, despite the fact that women make up more than half the EU’s population.”

GROUPS ANALYSIS - EPP stays behind.

EWL-analysis based on preliminary results by europedecides.eu/results/

A two-speed Europe for parity

The election results show a clear picture with regards to political families’ commitments to reach parity. The conservative and far right parties are lagging behind in comparison to center and left parties. During its 5050 campaign “No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality” ahead of the EP election in 2014 the EWL demanded best-fit quota systems according to the national electoral systems. Evidence shows that whether a quota/parity system reaches its objectives depends largely on effective sanctions. A conclusion which has been confirmed through the results of the EU elections 2014. In this sense for example the S&D political family performed notably well with regards to women candidates elected into the EP with a percentage of 45.5%. On the contrary the share of women is only 30.4 % in the political family of EPP.

Voter apathy and the swing to the right jeopardises women’s rights

In large parts of Europe the low voter turnout and success of far right and populist parties represent a risk to the development and implementation of progressive anti-discrimination policies including women’s rights and gender equality.

The backward looking ideology and openly misogynist views of some of the parties and individuals elected represents a challenge to Europe’s relative success in tackling gender inequality. Joanna Maycock says “we are concerned that support for women’s organisations will also be further under threat as we have already observed in our work on austerity.”

There is still a chance for a real step forward

The political families within the European Parliament have a unique chance to change the image of European Politics out of touch with voters by having a leadership which better reflects the diversity of the electorate. The political groups must give women voters and elected women the same voice and weight, as their male counterparts. Political parties have the opportunity to bring change and parity to the EP by nominating women and man as candidates for the European Parliaments presidential elections.

The EWL demands from all political groups to ensure gender parity and non-gender biased portfolios when nominating and appointing MEPs for decision-making positions in the EP.

Women are not a minority, but represent the majority of the European society. Therefore, women must be represented in all portfolios of the decision-making positions in the European Parliament. EWL Fundraising Coordinator and Policy Officer, Serap Altinisik, remarks “gender can only be mainstreamed when women have a say and are involved at all levels of decision-making by chairing for example committees of the EP.”


For more information or interviews, please contact:

✉Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer buijink@womenlobby.org -+32 02/210 04 40

✉Serap Altinisik, EWL Policy Officer and Fundraising Coordinator altinisik@womenlobby.org -+32 02/210 04 27

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MEPs and NGOs sound the alarm on anti-choice threat to maternal health

Posted on 9 April 2014

MEPs and NGOs sound the alarm on anti-choice threat to maternal health

[Brussels, 09 April 2014, Joint Press Release] European politicians and the undersigned civil society organisations called today for the European Commission to stand firm in the face of a European Citizen’s Initiative campaign that could have catastrophic consequences for maternal health in the developing world. The “One of Us” campaign, spearheaded by ultra-conservative, anti-choice movements, is the subject of a hearing at the European Parliament on Thursday, April 10th. The Commission must comment formally on the ECI by May 28th.

“One Of Us” seeks to ban EU funding for any activities that could involve the destruction of human embryos. It is demanding that the Commission cut off all funding for research on human embryonic stem cells and funding for any organisations that are involved in the provision of indirect or direct abortion or “abortion-related” services in low and middle-income countries. Almost 800 women in the developing world die every day during pregnancy and childbirth.

This initiative seriously risks hampering our fight to reduce these deaths. “This is a dangerous and regressive initiative which would abolish essential EU support for maternal healthcare, pre-natal care and voluntary family planning services in some of the world’s poorest countries,” said Neil Datta, Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF).

"Women’s rights are human rights,” said Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish Member of the European Parliament for the centre-right EPP Group. “Universality of these rights prohibits no one from choosing whether or not to apply these rights. Women’s right to decide on their own body is fundamental and cannot be overruled by religion or on any other grounds."

The “One Of Us” campaign is totally at odds with the EU’s longstanding development aid policy, and its international commitments as part of the Millennium Development Goals. Civil society trusts that, by rejecting this Initiative, the Commission will re-affirm the EU’s commitment to supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights. It must continue to play a strong global leadership role reducing maternal deaths. “The organisers of this initiative, driven by ultra-conservative anti-choice forces, are trying to impose their beliefs at any cost no matter if women’s lives are put in an immediate and significant high danger. This is not a pro-life posture; it is an open threat against women’s rights and against the basic human’s right to live in dignity”, said Viviane Teitelbaum, president of the European Women’s Lobby.

The “One of Us” initiative is the latest in a series of recent attacks on gender equality, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe and around the world. Ultra-conservative and anti-choice groups and politicians in Europe – some of whom who currently sit in the European Parliament – are now seeking to undermine the EU’s strong stance in support of women in the world’s poorest countries. “The organisers of One of Us have used the pretext of the protection of life to seek to impose anti-choice legislation that would be damaging for women’s health, researchers’ work and regenerative medicine,” said Pierre Galand, President of the European Humanist Federation. “We all value life in all its forms, and seek to create an environment where mothers and their children can thrive” added Vicky Claeys, IPPF EN Regional Director. “But the reality is that this campaign, if successful, would immediately and substantially increase the number of deaths in the developing world caused by pregnancy and delivery complications and unsafe abortions,” Claeys added.

Nicole Kiil-Nielsen French Member of the European Parliament for the Greens group added: “The EU – which has always played a leading role on this issue- should continue to promote the protection of maternal and reproductive health through its development aid."


Note to the editor

• Signatories: European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF), IPPF EN, European Women’s Lobby (EWL), Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR), European Humanist’s Federation, DSW ((Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung)

• The European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) was created by the Lisbon Treaty in 2010, and acts a mechanism by which European citizens can create a petition and bring it to the European Commission. A citizens’ initiative has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 28 member states.

• The One of Us ECI requests the following:

o Juridical protection of the dignity, the right to life and of the integrity of every human being from conception in the areas of EU competence in which such protection is of particular importance

o A ban and end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health; this includes a ban on funding for abortion, directly or indirectly, through the funding of organizations that encourage or promote abortion

• Approximately 120 million USD in EU development aid is currently spent each year to protect maternal and reproductive health. The ECI calls these funds into question.

• The EU’s position is clear – EU development funds to maternal health only goes to fund safe abortion services in countries where abortion is legal. This position has been restated by Development Commissioner Piebalgs on numerous occasions, reflecting aims and objectives of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the “Muskoka Initiative” on improving maternal, newborn and child health and other international initiatives.

At the conclusion of the One of Us public hearing (09.00-12.30) at the European Parliament on Thursday 10th April, there will be an informal press point outside the hearing meeting room (JAN 4Q2).

The following people will be available for interview and comment on the outcomes of the hearing:

• Michael Cashman MEP (UK, S&D)

• Ulrike Lunacek MEP (Austria, Greens/EFA)

• Francoise Castex MEP (France, S&D)

• Veronique de Keyser (Belgium, S&D)

• Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby

• Irene Donadio, Manager Public Affairs IPPF EN

• Neil Datta, Secretary, European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF)

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