International Women’s Day: Be bold for change

The European Union stands by women in Europe and around the globe today, as it did at the time of its foundation.

In a joint statement by a number of a number of Commissioners, headed by Vice-Presidents Federica Mogherini and Frans Timmermans, the European Commission writes on the eve of the International Women’s Day on 8 March that equality between women and men was embedded in the Rome Treaty 60 years ago as one of the European Union's fundamental values.

“At that time, Europe's commitment to the principle of equal pay for equal work was unique in the world.  Since then, the EU has continued to lead and has made visible progress on all fronts. We work tirelessly to defend women's rights and empower them in the fight against discrimination and gender-based violence.”  

In 2017, there are more women in work, more women graduating from universities, and more women active in politics or in top positions at European companies than ever before. Within the Commission, women represent 55% of the total workforce.

And yet, writes the Commission, too many women, especially single mothers, are still struggling to reach economic independence in the European Union. The rate of women's employment in the European Union reached an all-time high of 65.5% in 2016 and yet there is still a big difference with the 77% rate of men.

Much more must be done both inside and outside of Europe, states the Commission and lists a number of actions.

Through its 2016-2019 Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality, the European Commission tackles inequalities in key areas such as work, pay, decision making and violence.

  • The Commission has dedicated 2017 to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls.
  • The Commission will present this year a new work-life balance initiative for parents and carers.
  • Through the proposed reform of the Common European Asylum System, migrant women coming to Europe to seek protection and who have experienced harm will be provided with medical care, legal support, trauma counselling and psycho-social care.
  • The Commission will continue monitoring the gender dimension of preventing and combating trafficking in human beings in the implementation of its anti-trafficking policy and legislation
  • In its external relations, through the 2016-2020 EU Gender Action Plan, the Commission will particularly focus on assisting women and girls across the world who are excluded from education, from equal access to health and family planning services, the labour market, as well as political life while facing discriminatory rules and laws on inheritance, citizenship or land-ownership.
  • To ensure that assistance reaches the most vulnerable around the world, the Commission will continue to systematically apply gender-sensitive approach to humanitarian aid.
  • The Commission will continue to lead the way on implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on Gender Equality.

The International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. IWD has been observed since in the early 1900's.

The theme for IWD 2017 is “Be Bold for Change”. Men and women are encouraged to submit a #BeBoldForChange action via the IWD website:

The ONE campaign is launching the action #GirlsCount alongside a report that shows how getting more girls in school could save more than a million lives and add more than $100 billion dollars a year to the global economy. Globally, 130 million girls are not in school, writes ONE.

The EP Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality will organize a seminar with workshops on “Women’s economic empowerment: Let’s act together”. The seminar will take place on 8 March (15 – 21) and 9 March (9 – 12.30) in the European Parliament in Brussels (József Antall room 2Q2).

The Brussels Times

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