Over the last five years the EU has taken big steps to make the financial sector more stable and economic governance stronger.

These far-reaching reforms will make European banks rock-solid on the global financial markets and prevent sovereign debt crises from happening again.

As a Member of the European Parliament’s Economic Committee and author of several legislative reports, I have worked on a number of these reforms. In doing so, I was very often inspired by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, in her relentless fight against the debt crisis in Europe.

Breaking the glass ceiling

Lagarde is a staunch defender of economic reform in the world’s leading economies to relaunch economic growth. Never afraid to speak her mind, whether it is on what measures are needed to bring Europe back on track and renew growth or to issue warnings on the US debt ceiling, I find Christine Lagarde inspirational.

Christine Lagarde is a staunch defender of economic reform in the world’s leading economies to relaunch economic growth Marianne Thyssen MEP

As the first woman to run the IMF, and with a remarkable career in French politics and as a top lawyer before that, Lagarde is also a leading example for women and men when it comes to breaking the glass ceiling.

Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union, but that doesn’t mean the battle is over. Very often we still need to make this equality a reality.

60 percent of university graduates are women, but very few of them today make it to the top posts

I am pleased that under EPP leadership, the European Parliament took a major step closer to equality by adopting by a large majority a text setting out an objective of 40% of women on boards of listed companies. This EU law was made when studies showed that 60 percent of university graduates are women, but very few of them today make it to the top posts - and only 16.6 percent of board members in Europe are female.

Improving gender equality at work 

Overall, the situation of women in the labour market is not really a fairytale. For example, women still get paid approximately 16 percent less for the same work done by men. 

Companies that want to remain competitive in a globalised economy cannot afford to squander the skills and talent of women

Europe must take initiative to change this status quo and encourage a change in attitude towards women in leadership positions. Hopefully the Directive mentioned above will trigger a positive domino effect for working women across Europe.

Companies that want to remain competitive in a globalised economy cannot afford to squander the skills and talent of women.

But of course it is also up to women themselves to accept new professional challenges and not to shy away from taking the lead. I believe in the power of women to contribute to our society and our economy. In this regard, women like Christine Lagarde are an inspiration to all of us.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople

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