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Maternity Leave Directive - European Women’s Lobby expresses deep disappointment in the aftermath of the EP non-vote and appeals to the electorate to vote for more women in the future European Parliament

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) expresses its deep disappointment at the way in which the Estrela report to improve provisions for pregnant women workers, those that have recently given birth and/or breastfeeding was addressed at the last plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday – 6 May.

“Women have joined the labour market in unprecedented numbers in the last decade and made a substantial contribution to the economic development of the European Union. The labour market is no longer the exclusive domain of men. Pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding are specific to women and must be mirrored in labour market regulations, laws and protection measures and policies”, stated Brigitte Triems, EWL President. “The European Parliament had the opportunity to send a strong message to women workers of the European Union regarding their right to a decent maternity leave provision, fully paid and protection from dismissal on returning to work. Men, along with partners of women who have recently given birth, were also being given the possibility of availing of paternity/co-maternity leave, as a right and not at the discretion of employers providing a golden opportunity to pave the way towards equality between women and men in their responsibilities as parents.”

While maternity provisions currently vary within the Member States the proposed Estrela report provided the opportunity to ensure that all women workers in Europe, including those in atypical forms of employment, would be guaranteed equal provisions in terms of duration, full pay and protection from dismissal on returning to work.

“This is a missed opportunity that shows more so than ever that a critical mass of women is needed in the name of democracy for the future legislature of the new European Parliament,” stated Myria Vassiliadou, EWL Secretary General. “Issues that relate to women’s lives, such as maternity protection, have a far greater chance of becoming political priorities when more women are sitting at the decision-making table.”

By refusing to vote on the Estrela report, the current European Parliament at the end of its mandate has failed women. “We can only now look to the future, draw conclusions from the current state of play and invite the electorate to carefully think about the type of European Union we want. Europe belongs to us all and that includes women”, stated Ms Vassiliadou.

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