On the International Women’s Day, taking place each year on 8 March, the European Commission published its 2019 Gender Equality report and spoke up for women’s rights in Europe and abroad. The day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women but marks also a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year the campaign theme was #BalanceforBetter.
According to a factsheet published by the Commission, 80 % of men think that gender equality is important for them personally. That said, equality is lacking in most areas, including home work. Women spend on average 21 hours per week on house work and caring activities while men spend 9 hours per week.
“Europe ranks among the safest and most equal places for girls and women in the world. But also, in Europe women are still facing challenges, inequalities and threats in their everyday lives: abuses and harassment, lower wages, fewer job and career opportunities. And that is unacceptable,” the Commission said in a statement.
“Many of the remaining inequalities are linked to the place of women at work. The EU’s new rules on Work-Life Balance will contribute to getting more women at work by giving families a real choice on how to organise their professional and private life.”
Belgium is one of only six countries in the world where women have precisely the same rights under the law as men; the others are Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden. At the very bottom of a list of 187 countries stands Saudi Arabia, where women are given a legal status as minors and must have a male guardian whose permission is required for obtaining a passport and travel.
The Commission says that gender equality is at the core of its continuous engagement with partner countries worldwide but is careful in criticising them openly. Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström caused a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia when she said in 2015 that women’s rights are abused there.
The Brussels Times