This month’s 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties also means 60 years EU commitment to gender equality. On today’s International Women’s Day, Viviane Reding calls for continued action to unlock the full potential of an equal society.
In the EU we have come a long way. The equal pay for equal work provision in the 1957 Rome Treaties, evolved into a fully-fledged commitment to equality as a fundamental value of the EU. V. Reding commented: “This is a European success-story to which I am honoured to have contributed. Since I tabled a proposal in 2012 for a balanced representation on company boards, the number of women on those boards has almost doubled in Europe - even though the proposal is still held hostage by the Council. I call upon the Maltese Presidency to put it back firmly on the agenda.”
Commenting on the long road ahead, the former Commissioner stated: “60 year Rome Treaties also means 60 years of not closing the gender pay gap - notwithstanding the early commitment to equal pay for equal work. We have to be bolder for change to achieve full parity. It will simply not do to tell girls born today that they will have to wait another 70 years for equal pay.” - Looking forward she added: “New digital frontiers must not turn into a new gender gap. The added value of more women in digital could amount up to €9bn/year added to European GDP. Faced with a projected shortage of 756 000 ICT-professionals by 2020, what are we waiting for to empower women?”
Reding also warned not to take progress for granted: “An American President who got elected in spite of repeated vicious comments directed against women, a Russian law decriminalizing (and thus trivializing) certain forms of domestic violence, and most recently the isolated but harmful misogynistic rant of a Polish non-attached MEP in the plenary assembly of the European Parliament, are but a few instances of progress being rolled back. We cannot allow these attitudes to spread and take root again. We must stay vigilant and condemn inequality wherever it persists or re-emerges!”
She concluded: “The objective of International Women’s Day should be to make itself obsolete. One day per year of well-intended declarations will not suffice to achieve this. We need deliberate and bold action, 365 days every year”.