Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-03-08-Speech-2-115-000"

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"I am extremely pleased to be able to preside over our Parliament together with my female fellow Members. Six of them are Vice-Presidents of Parliament, two are Quaestors, and the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is sitting next to me. This is a particular honour and privilege for me. Ladies and gentlemen, on 3 November 1793, 218 years ago, Olympia de Gouges was beheaded in Europe because she drafted a declaration of the rights of women and female citizens. That was the only reason. One hundred years later, in 1906, women were given the right to vote. The first country where this happened was Finland. Let us remember this. Over the following century, we made enormous progress in achieving equality between women and men. I would like to stress something which is very important for me personally, namely, that 8 March is a holiday for women. This is true. Yet this holiday primarily serves to remind us that we should remember the most important issue in Europe today, namely, equality of rights for women and men, during the remaining 364 days of the year. The principles we wish to reinforce on 8 March should also apply on the other 364 days in the year. This is the main challenge facing us. It is not enough merely to commemorate 8 March; we need to think about this matter on all the other days in the year as well. Thank you very much. I am resuming the sitting. The next item is the debate on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. We shall begin with a short film summarising the history of this notable day. Please start the projection. Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen, a film lasting two minutes cannot show everything that has happened over the past 100 years. We have, in fact, changed Europe in this time, and we Europeans can be proud when we compare Europe to many places in the world, but at the same time, we know that our journey is not over. There are still too few women in politics, and here in the European Parliament, our female Members account for only 35% of all Members. This figure is admittedly somewhat higher than in the national parliaments, but it is still not enough. Fortunately, the figure in our Parliament’s main decision-making bodies is well over 40%, and we are very pleased about this. This is also the case for the chairs of the committees. Yet the European Parliament’s formation in three years’ time, after the next elections, essentially depends on the national parliaments and the way in which representatives are appointed to the European Parliament. It is our national parliaments that must ensure that the number of women in the European Parliament increases. We are calling on them today to do so, and we are calling on our counterparts in the national parliaments to ensure that appropriate legal solutions are found and the appropriate decisions are taken to facilitate an increase in the number of women in the European Parliament. We can also set an example when it comes to the employment of women. Of those employed in the European Parliament, 59% are women and, at the same time, over 50% of these women deal with matters of substance. I have extensive experience in this area and can pride myself on the fact that while I was responsible for the government in my country, around 50 women occupied the highest ministerial positions and served as directors of the most important state offices. This record has never been broken, neither before nor in the dozen or so years since. As President of the European Parliament, I have also called for there to be more women in the European Commission and in high-level positions in the European Union. We can be pleased that the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is a woman. The situation in European businesses has also changed, which is very beneficial not only for women, but, above all, for the way in which these businesses operate. We should also ensure that women and men employed in the same jobs with the same skills receive the same pay. We still have a lot to do in this respect. We are very well aware that women are also capable of fighting for democracy and human rights. I would like to pay tribute to all of our female fellow Members in the European Parliament, and to think at this point about the women in North Africa and in the Middle East who are showing true courage in their fight for democracy. Let us also remember that the past winners of the Sakharov Prize include magnificent women such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Leyla Zana and the Ladies in White. I should therefore like once again to repeat that we will not agree to depriving women of their dignity in the name of any legal system, religion or culture. We will not agree to women having fewer rights than men, in Europe or elsewhere in the world. We will protest if women are unfairly treated."@en1
"(Projection of a film)"1

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