Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Parliament celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday, playing pre-recorded speeches of women world leaders, according to a press release.
Opening the plenary session, EP President David Sassoli warned that the coronavirus crisis threatens the right of women in Europe to work, to autonomy and emancipation. It was unacceptable, he said, that women in the EU “earn on average 14.1% less than men”.
He called on the bloc to criminalize violence against women and urged all member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
EC to raise women’s employment levels to men’s
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that the employment rate for women in the EU stands at 67%, in contrast with 78% for men, which she found unacceptable . For this reason, she said, “we will do everything in our power” to redress this disparity by the end of the decade.
“The Commission required that all member states put women at the centre of their post-COVID-19 recovery plans,” von der Leyen pointed out and concluded that “it will only be a true recovery if these plans are for all.”
More women needed in the work force
Among the featured pre-recorded messages by female world leaders, that of US Vice President Kamala Harris noted how the world does not work for women.
She said it was essential to ensure women’s safety everywhere and to put “in place the structures needed so that they can both care for their families and excel in the workforce“.
Women must be given “an equal voice in decision-making”, she urged, “for this is essential to free and fair democracies”, she urged. If all countries do this, she noted,”our nations will all be safer, stronger and more prosperous”.
Strengthening transatlantic relations
With regard to future US-EU relations, Harris announced plans to strengthen transatlantic ties, concluding that “it is essential that we work together to advance those principles that strengthen democracies: accountability and transparency, the rule of law and humans rights”.
In her message, Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, stated her firm belief that only by including women “in leadership at all levels can we ensure that our responses to the pandemic meet the needs of everyone”.
It was vital, she declared, that more be done “to support women-led business to be part of the recovery, so they can more readily experience the benefits of trade”.