EWL News

Remembering Ana Vale: EWL mourns the passing away of its first President Ana Vale, who passed away on Saturday 26 September 2020

Ana Vale

It is with profound sadness that we learned of the passing of the European Women’s Lobby’s first President Ana Vale on Saturday 26 September 2020.

“The women’s movement lost a visionary woman who made so much for equality between women and men in the EU and in Portugal. Rest in power Ana Vale. 💜 " Ana Sofia Fernandes, Vice-President of the European Women’s Lobby President of the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights

Women’s organisations across Europe have joined in paying tribute to a visionary woman who dedicated her life to the fight for equality between women and men. Ana Vale’s leadership was instrumental in building the foundations of the European Women’s Lobby as an effective force for mobilising and uniting women’s organisations across Europe. She became the first President of EWL, at the founding General Assembly in September 1990, she was instrumental in bringing the members together in the newly formed organisation and showed immense qualities in developing the collective voice and building a trustful relationship between and among the members.

“Ana Vale was a true trailblazer in bringing together and leading women’s organisations across the EU to shape the policies and law on equality between women and men which is still today growing in voice and importance, that this is an incredible legacy. As EWL celebrates its 30th anniversary, the fight for equality between women and girls is not over, but Ana played an essential role in advancing the cause across Europe, and we build on her legacy as we continue her work each day” Joanna Maycock, Secretary General, European Women’s Lobby

Ana was a member of the NGO Section of the Consultative Council of the Commission on Women’s Condition, later Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights in Portugal.

She was manager of the EQUAL Program, a program in which “social innovation" materialized into new solutions to combat discrimination in the labour market and respond more effectively to the problems of communities and people at a greater disadvantage. The EQUAL Program was based on the principles of innovation, working in partnership, empowerment, equality between women and men, transnational cooperation, employers’ involvement and the dissemination of good practices. Its implementation focused on a set of thematic priorities and areas of intervention, namely: employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability, asylum seekers and equal opportunities between women and men - reconciling personal-family-professional-life and eliminating discrimination and disparities at work.

She also worked at the Portuguese Workers Confederation Union - CGTP-IN.

Here are just some of the tributes that have been shared by members and partners across Europe:


“As the first president of the EWL, Ana was a trailblazer for women’s equality. I got to know her when I was Secretary General of the EWL. Her leadership style was marked by her commitment and her ability to strike important compromises and yet to move forward with her equality agenda. She was courageous, kind and a true European. I am deeply sorry about her passing. We lost an important voice for women and a wonderful human being.” Barbara Helfferich, First Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby


"It is a loss to regret. I met Ana Vale a few times during my work at CIDM / CIG and in addition to what has already been said, I wanted to add that she was a person whose initiatives were always based on great knowledge and coherence of principles."

Teresa Pinto,
Chair of the General Assembly of the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights

"I also associate myself with all those who remember Ana Vale, recognizing her value, her coherence and her immense capacity for social innovation."

Maria do Céu da Cunha Rêgo,
Former Secretary of State for Equality

"We owe a lot to women like Ana Vale who did so much to guarantee the safeguarding of women’s rights, particularly in the areas of work and employment. I particularly remember her leadership in the development and implementation of the EQUAL Program, a program with a distinctive character of innovation, working in partnership and promoting equality between women and men. Thank you Ana Vale!”

Alexandra Silva,
Former President of the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights

“The Greek Coordination is paying tribute to the first President of the EWL ANA VALE who passed away. She has worked hard for our feminist principles and values and she was dedicated.”

Mika Ioannidou,
Head of the Greek NGOS for the EWL

“My condolence for the passed away leader Ana Vale. My respect for her life for our rights and better lives. She will remain in our memories and in the book of Herstory.”

Marion Boeker,
International Alliance of Women

“It is a very sad news. Thank you for sharing with us Ana Vale’s story and her crucial work for women and girls, as well as the words of your colleagues and yourself about her. EWL has lost one of its great leaders and members and will pay homage to her and her legacy.”

Gwendoline LEFEBVRE,
President, European Women’s Lobby

"Nous n’étions pas nombreuses à l’époque à penser que l’Union Européenne pouvait servir les droits des femmes. Nous étions à la fin du siècle dernier, au début des années 90. Au niveau national, au Portugal mais aussi dans chacun des États membres d’alors, les combats pour la reconnaissance des droits civils, des droits à la contraception, de l’inégalité salariale, avaient épuisé le mouvement et bien peu d’entre nous avaient osé s’investir sur le terrain européen qui paraissait si distant sinon hostile. Ana fut de ces croyantes des débuts : début du Lobby Européen des Femmes dont elle fut la première présidente, mais aussi début du premier programme du Fonds Social Européen pour les femmes, l’initiative communautaire NOW (New Opportunities for Women) dont elle fut une gestionnaire rigoureuse, avant de prendre les rennes du programme EQUAL. Militante, "fémocrate" (ainsi que les australiennes nommaient alors les féministes dans les institutions) et toujours d’une énergie et d’une droiture absolue, intransigeante, Ana fait partie de ces femmes de l’ombre qui ont fait progresser la cause des femmes en Europe sans jamais se mettre en avant ou en attendre des honneurs . Elle a accompagné l’élargissement de la politique européenne d’égalité dans sa revendication paritaire, elle a méthodiquement canalisé les ressources du fonds social européen vers le financement de formations pour les femmes, de crèches et d’expériences novatrices avant de rentrer militer au Portugal.
Pour tes multiples petites et grandes réalisations qui ont amélioré la vie de tant de femmes en Europe, pour avoir fait avancer la cause des femmes par des actions concrètes, à la manière de Jean Monnet, nous te remercions Ana"


“Ana Vale was a very great woman and great women that pass away are a big loss for all of us women. But what we can do is to learn from her, to remember her and to work further in her steps, then she and the work she started will be remembered, will motivate others, will continue and succeed.”

Christiane Ugbor,
Austrian Women Ring

“Please accept the sincere condolences and solidarity of the UK Joint Committee on Women to all in the Portuguese Women’s Lobby and sisters in Portugal. We pay tribute to the work and life of Ana Vale.”

Emma Ritch,
UK Joint Committee on Women

“The death of Ana Vale is a great loss for the women’s movement , not only in Portugal but all over Europa and beyond. Ana Vale was an inspiring woman for all of us. Let’s cherish her memory.

Magda De Meyer,
Vrouwenraad Belgium

“Indeed a great lost for all of us but especially to all women in Portugal and for your organisation. Ana Vale was a rolemodel for all of us. We are all inspired to continue what she starts. A hero!”

Tonny Filedt Kok-Weimar,
Nederlandse Vrouwen Raad (NVR)

“Ana Vale was a true hero, fighting for women’s rights, she will be missed.”

Annelies Pierrot Bults,

“On behalf of the Italian Coordination, I wish to express our deepest feeling of sadness at the passing of Ana Vale. It is a great loss not only for you, but for all of us. I met her personally as President of Ewl and once I came to Lisbon on the occasion of a past Portuguese Presidency of the EU, where I had the great opportunity to dine with her together with Jacqueline de Groote. It will be difficult for me to forget such a great Woman, her commitment and charisma and, at the same time, her humility which is a gift from great people. I am sure that Ana Vale and her action will surely survive in all of us and guide us in our work on women’s rights. For my part, I will also remember her strong and melancholy gaze as the notes of a Fado”

Maria Ludovica Bottarelli Tranquilli-Leali,
President, Italian Coordination

“It’s always a bad day when we lose a woman who fights for our rights! I Pay tribute to Ana Vale’s work. Rest in peace, dear sister!”

Rosanna Ruscito,

“The Lobby Europeo de Mujeres en España- LEM España is paying tribute to the first President of the EWL ANA VALE who passed away. It’s always a bad day when we lose a woman who fights for our rights! “

Teresa Nevado Bueno,
LEM ESPAÑA Secretaria General

“So sad to hear the loss of Ana Vale, a pioneer women who dedicated her life to enhance women’s rights. As EWL Coordination for Turkey we send our heartfelt condolences to all sisters in Portugal.”

Dr. Selma Acuner
On behalf of EWL Coordination for Turkey

“Even though I never met her personally, I can see from the memories of many that Ana Vale, was an inspiring leader, fighter for women rights and her death is a great loss to all of us! On behalf of the Medical Women´s International Association my deepest sympathy to the Portuguese Women’s Lobby and our sisters in Portugal. I am sure that her legacy will endure and she will still live on in the memories and heart of many!”

Prof. Dr. Dr. Bettina Pfleiderer,
Medical Women’s International Association

"Another dear companion who leaves!
Ana was one of the negotiators in the process that led to the creation of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest European organization for the defense and promotion of women’s rights. The role that she then played in this difficult and long process deserved the recognition of her peers who elected her as the first President of EWL.
Ana Vale was strict in respecting the fundamental concepts of intervention in the field of women’s rights and equality and was of a strong perseverance in pursuing the objectives. Her serene opinions were heard in silence even in the most tumultuous of meetings. We could agree or disagree, but her opinion always weighed in the final decision made.In a country where people at decision levels had the knowledge to identify excellence, Ana Vale would always be performing at the highest level in the state. She was not, although she had significant responsibilities in the management of European funds, but that is also one of the reasons for our poverty, we are poor and we do not recognize the quality of the human heritage that could lift us out of poverty.
I miss Ana Vale ...
We will find ourselves in Paradise where women who fight for the rights of all women go, Feminists’ Paradise!"

Ana Coucello,
Vice-President (2002-2004) and Member of the Board of Administration of the European Women’s Lobby

"Information that I received with sadness because I appreciated Ana Vale and respected her work, although we haven’t had contact in a long time.
Ana was a member of the NGO section of the Advisory Council of the Commission on Women’s Condition, later the Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights, when I was the president of the same and had a very active voice and presence there.
I also followed her work as the first president of the European Women’s Lobby, because that year I chaired the European Commission’s Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men where the Lobby sat as an observer and in that context we met regularly at meetings and we got together later." Regina Tavares da Silva, Former President of the National Equality Mechanism Former chair of the European Commission’s Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. In fact, she managed to create a reference heritage."

Margarida Medina Martins,
President of the Association of Women Against Violence (AMCV)

"Ana Vale was very important for this country in many ways. It can never be overemphasized the importance of her leadership in the EQUAL Community Initiative Management Office for the affirmation of good principles and a culture of evaluation and rigor in social intervention.
We were poorer ..."

Virgínia Ferreira,
President of the Portuguese Association of Women’s Studies (APEM)

"The death of Ana Vale touches us deeply.
We are losing a fervent feminist who has always defended our rights with conviction and sincerity. She will be missed.
Our sincere condolences to our Portuguese sisters.
The best tribute we can pay her is: let’s continue the fight for equal rights, and let’s remain vigilant, let’s not let anything go"

Annie Nickels-Theis, President CNFL
Claudine Speltz-Van Bellingen, Board member and CNFL delegate to EWL

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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