[Strasbourg 21 October 2014]
Gathering outside the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg on the day of the 4th anniversary of the EP’s adoption of the Maternity Leave Directive, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) made it clear that women in Europe will not wait another four years for equal maternity rights at a time when working conditions are becoming more precarious and women are facing more discrimination when pregnant and/or returning to work following child birth.
Calling on the EU institutions to #DeliverNow, the EWL was joined by a cross party group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and women’s rights organisations, such as Osez le Féminisme 67 and Initiativ Liewensufank; adding their support to the many voices of frustration, determination and resilience through the megaphone.
“If it would have been a ‘man’s issue’ it would have passed years ago”, said MEP Julie Ward (S&D) at the demonstration. ”
While recognising that only women give birth, the Maternity Leave Directive is a societal issue for a sustainable European future, an issue for women and men.
The newly appointed EP Rapporteur responsible for engaging with the Council and in particular the Italian Presidency, Alsessandra Moretti (S&D) de-briefed the crowd on last week’s EPSCO council meeting where the directive was discussed.
The member states are divided on the issue. Half of those, not in favour are divided into two fractions, one consisting of those wanting a more progressive directive, while the other half do not see the need to prioritise such a directive.
We call on the member states claiming for a more progressive directive to show solidarity.
We call for the member states that don’t see the need of a progressive directive, to re-consider the societal consequences of the failure to strengthen maternity rights for all women in Europe.
We are at a time of change: in the European institutions, in European changing and ageing demographics, economics. In times of change it is crucial to secure and enhance women’s rights and gender equality. The Maternity Leave Directive is one step on a long journey towards a Europe free from discrimination and a place where women and men have the same opportunities and rights. The labour-market is no longer the exclusive public domain for men as there are more women than in the past; therefore, a new gender contract is necessary to redefine the terms and conditions of a shared space in which women’s rights must be on a level playing field with men. These include women’s right to paid maternity leave.