EU promotes equality ahead of International Women’s Day 2018

Marianne Thyssen celebrates International Women’s Day 2018
Marianne Thyssen © European People's Party

The European Commission and the United Nations are among the international organisations promoting equality and diversity ahead of International Women’s Day 2018.

International Women’s Day is held on 8 March every year and celebrates the political, economic, social and cultural achievements of women around the world. The day acts as an opportunity to discuss issues of gender equality, highlight issues such as the gender pay gap, and advocate for women’s rights.

Ahead of the event, 16 European Commissioners – including First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Marianne Thyssen, Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Vera Jourová – signed a declaration in which they outline their priorities for advancing the cause of gender equality in Europe.

What is the EU doing?

The joint statement shows that under Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the number of women in managerial positions in the European Commission has reached 36%; further, the cabinet has committed to reaching 40% by the end of its mandate. This shows significant progress compared to the end of the previous commission, when only 11% of managerial jobs were filled by women.

Additionally, new research by Eurostat shows that in 2016, women in Europe were paid, on average, 16% less than men. This represents a decrease of 0.6 percentage points since 2011, demonstrating that while Europe’s efforts are working, progress has been slow.

To celebrate the day, the EU will also announce 12 finalists for the EU Prize for Women Innovators, which celebrates women who have combined scientific excellence with entrepreneurial success and is the largest prize of its kind in the world.

Further, the commission has taken over the leadership of the global call to action for protection against gender-based violence, which unites over 60 countries and organisations to address the problem of gender-based violence during disasters humanitarian crises.

Who else is celebrating International Women’s Day?

The UN’s Secretary General, António Guterres, also issued a statement welcoming the event on behalf of the organisation, and emphasised that his senior management team has reached gender parity for the first time.

However, he also highlighted areas in which more work needs to be done. For example, Guterres emphasised that “more than one billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence [and] the global gender pay gap is 23%”.

Finally, he committed to bringing an end to sexual exploitation and abuse by staff and volunteers used in aid and peacekeeping missions, and to provide more support for victims of this type of abuse.


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