[Brussels, 22 October 2019] On September 30, 2019 the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Finland, organised a conference to analyse the challenges, priorities and operational policies of EU gender policy for the next five years based on the UN’s review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing +25).
As political leaders gathered under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency to push forward the agenda on equality between women and men within the six-month presidency mandate, but also beyond, a huge delegation of EWL members seized the opportunity to make our collective voice heard.
Our President Gwendoline Lefebvre also spoke at the conference. Find here some excerpts of her speech.
"We have a lot to celebrate today at the eve of a new European Commission, headed for the first time in its history by a woman in an almost gender parity Commission. We have also seen the increase in the number of women elected to the European Parliament and can now declare that the EU has finally entered into the 21st century! But, let’s not become complacent as there is still a long way to go.
The first priority we believe essential is the adoption of a political Strategy on Equality between Women and Men, which has not been in place since 2015. By a political strategy, we are referring to an overarching strategic framework that sets out priorities for the coming five years and engages all actors at both European and national level. We believe that an EU Strategy on equality between women and men should also include the Member States as it provides an excellent opportunity to build a gender equal Europe.
It’s time for equality between women and men to be put back on the political agenda. In the absence of a strategy, women become invisible, subsumed in other issues with the result that it becomes impossible to trace progress or spending on achieving equality between women and men. We believe it is high time to establish a formal Council meeting of Ministers responsible for equality between women and men. We know that Sports Ministers meet at formal Councils many times a year, and while I do not undermine the importance of sports, it is high time for a formal Council to be established on equality between women and men.
We also call for the development of a long-term gender budgeting strategy for the EU budget, including the next EU long-term budget, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework known as the MFF, and national budgets. I am proud to say that many of our members are providing support to public authorities in different countries, in developing and monitoring gender budget models and practices, which we at the EWL would be more than happy to share. In our (forthcoming) publication of our Purple Pact, we set out a number of proposals for a feminist economic model, a model of wellbeing for all which, we would like to see as part of the future EU Strategy.
We expect the future EU Strategy on equality between women and men to include a comprehensive EU-wide Action plan on preventing and combating all forms of violence against women, including specific legislation in the form of a comprehensive Directive covering all forms of violence including sexual exploitation. Preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls; protecting and supporting victims; and addressing all the structural issues that fuel this violence must be a top priority of the EU. The Istanbul Convention must remain a priority and must be ratified by all Member States and the EU.
We want to see zero-tolerance of violence against women in Europe, this also includes the eradication of all forms of sexual exploitation against women and girls. We have an ambitious agenda and high expectations for the coming five years. As the EWL, we are very happy to work with you in making this happen."
Find tweets by our members in Helsinki under the hashtag #eugenderequality here.
Find pictures of the conference here.
Watch a short video on the conference here.
Watch speaker interventions during the conference again here.