Stories of #WomenForEurope

Soraya Post

"I have always been a human rights activist. I founded several NGOs, I have been working at national level as an advisor to government bodies in Sweden, and on European level as advisor to the Council of Europe and the European Commission regarding the Roma issues. I have devoted my life to working with issues regarding human rights by focusing on the empowerment of Romani women and the self-determination of the Romani society.

I was approach by a couple of political parties to join them but I never felt that I could represent any of them fully until the Feminist Initiative from Sweden approached me. Feminist Initiative puts anti-racism, gender equality and human rights on top of the political agenda and that is what I believe in too. In 2014, I was the first Roma person in Sweden to stand as a candidate for a political party and was elected the first Member of the European Parliament from an anti-racist and feminist party.

I often say that I was born condemned because I am Roma. Anti-Gypsyism, the specific form of racism directed against Roma, thrives in all walks of life – from education to employment, from access to information to access to justice, from our cradles to our graves, in the denial of our history and the deprivation of our future. I have been fighting against Anti-Gypsyism as an activist and now I am also fighting against it as a politician. I want everyone to be able to enjoy their human rights.

There is a lack of political direction in order to tackle physical and sexual violence against women, the gender pay gap, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people, hate-speech against minorities and the rise of nationalist and far-right parties in Europe. We need a new political force in parliaments, which challenges existing ideologies.

The Feminist Initiative puts gender equality and human rights on top of the political agenda. Our ideas are based on antiracist feminism and we think that politics should be about more than economic growth. Left and right wing perspectives are not irrelevant, but discrimination, racism and sexism do not disappear automatically with socialism. Neither does liberalism, with its focus on individual freedoms, remove the structural inequalities of our societies. That is why the world needs ideologically independent feminist political parties.

Women who inspire me are Gudrun Schyman, the founder of Feminist Initiative in Sweden and the most prominent feminist politician in Sweden. Rosa Parks, civil rights activist and the icon of resistance to racial segregation. And Oprah Winfrey, started as the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV and became one of the world’s most powerful women."

In the run-up to the launch of our campaign ’50:50 Women for Europe, Europe for Women’ on June 7, we are publishing stories of women in politics in Europe. Soraya Post is a Member of the European Parliament, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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