The European Parliament works for Women

15th March, 2012 12:31 pm

Unlike the Tory-led coalition government in the UK, the European Parliament boasts a thriving women’s rights agenda.

This week’s plenary session in Strasbourg saw two reports addressing equality between men and women.

The first report concerned women in political decision making, calling for gender parity in participation at all levels in the political process. Slightly cheekily, the report recommended that member states support parity at the top of the European Union by proposing mamber states put forward both a female and a male candidate for the office of European Commissioner. The final decision would then be taken by the European Council and the European Parliament.

The report, in addition, called for increased promotion of women through the media and the education process, including a demand to challenge stereotyping thereby encouraging the portrayal of positive images of women as leaders.

This is an important, positive and progressive report, which offers a real chance to change attitudes.

Political representation is an area where the Labour party has made impressive steps. All women shortlists for Westminster selections have been particularly successful and we also, of course, have a system of ensuring women are placed in winnable positions on the lists for the European Parliament. We still have some way to go, but there is definitely more balanced representation within the Labour Party than in other parties. We have already shown that the proposals in this report are not unattainable pie in the sky.

Unsurprisingly the Tories voted against the entire report.

The second report concerned equality between women and men in the EU, providing a general overview of the position of men and women in 2011.

The Tories, who, having left the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) are now the leading lights in the rag-bag hard-right European Parliament political group the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), put forward a number of regressive amendments to the report. Interestingly the same amendments were also tabled by the UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Having previously tried and failed to get these amendments through the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Tory MEP Marina Yannakoudakis should, I suppose, be given credit for dogged determination.

It is worth outlining the gist of the worst amendments put forward by the Tories to illustrate how backward looking they are in the European Parliament where they are obviously far less scrutinised than the House of Commons. Yannakoudakis tried to get the European Parliament to reconsider its decision (to make it worse of course) on a Directive on maternity leave currently being considered by the European Council. She also wanted to delete the paragraph in the report which called for the European Commission to present comprehensive data on female representation, the Tories’ aim being to halt European Commissioner Viviane Reding’s recent proposals for binding measures to address the imbalance of women on company boards

Thankfully the Tory amendments were defeated. A strong message has been sent to them and UKIP as well as women across the EU, saying: ‘The European Parliament takes women seriously. Women deserve the choice to live their lives to the full, including the opportunity to break through the glass ceiling. The European Parliament will support these efforts.’

Mary Honeyball is a Labour MEP for London.

  • GuyM

    Meanwhile in the real world…


  • Comment Full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s email to Labour Party members about Syria

    Full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s email to Labour Party members about Syria

    On Thursday David Cameron set out his case in the House of Commons for a UK bombing campaign in Syria. We have all been horrified by the despicable attacks in Paris and are determined to see ISIS defeated. The issue now is whether what the Prime Minister is proposing strengthens, or undermines, our national security. I put a series of questions in response to the Prime Minister’s statement, raising concerns about his case that are on the minds of many […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Uncategorized Corbyn turns to Labour Party members in Syria dispute

    Corbyn turns to Labour Party members in Syria dispute

    Jeremy Corbyn has emailed Labour Party members to ask their views on military action against Isis in Syria, as it has appears increasingly likely that the Shadow Cabinet will grant Labour MPs a free vote on the issue. In the email, the Labour Leader says that he does not “believe that the Prime Minister made a convincing case [on Thursday] that British airstrikes on Syria would strength our national security or reduce the threat from Isis.” “When I was elected […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Tom Watson backs airstrikes against Isil and says he has a mandate as Deputy Leader

    Tom Watson backs airstrikes against Isil and says he has a mandate as Deputy Leader

    Tom Watson backed airstrikes against Isil in Syria today, putting himself at odds with Jeremy Corbyn. Watson said he agrees with the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, that “there is an imminent terrorist threat being directed from Syria” that requires a military response. And he insisted in a BBC interview that he would not resign from the Shadow Cabinet if Labour MPs were denied a free vote on the issue, as he is “the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Unions Corbyn says “welcome home” as firefighters’ union reaffiliates to Labour

    Corbyn says “welcome home” as firefighters’ union reaffiliates to Labour

    The Fire Brigades Union have today voted to affiliate to the Labour Party – 11 years after breaking off ties. The decision was made at a special conference in Blackpool. The news that the union, which has 38,000 members, wants to rebuild links to Labour has been welcomed by Jeremy Corbyn who said the move “marks a milestone in the building of our new politics and our labour movement.” The FBU’s general secretary Matt Wrack, who is considered a left […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News NEC lifts Andrew Fisher’s suspension from membership over Croydon South Tweet

    NEC lifts Andrew Fisher’s suspension from membership over Croydon South Tweet

    Andrew Fisher has had his suspension from Labour Party membership lifted by the National Executive Committee following an investigation into his Tweet suggesting people in Croydon South vote Class War. He has however received a warning by the NEC about his conduct. Jeremy Corbyn’s political adviser was suspended after the Labour candidate in Croydon South, Emily Bell, complained about the Tweet he made in 2014. Fisher had Tweeted: “FFS if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard.” […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends