"We've covered a lot of ground in the last years to improve gender equality. Yet, a lot more still needs to be done if we want to really achieve it", said Catiuscia Marini, President of the PES Group in the CoR, on the occasion of the International Women's Day 2018. "This 8 March is a renewed opportunity for all to reflect on the state of play of women's rights in the EU, but also across the globe", she underlined.
According to the European Commission "2018 Report on equality between women and men in the EU", women in the EU still earn on average over 16% less per hour than men, often a consequence of a career break after a child's birth or the result of gender discrimination. "This already unacceptable pay gap between women and men leads later on in life to a scandalous 39% gender pension gap, with huge consequences on women's well-being", pointed out President Marini, urging for concrete measures to address this persisting problem. It is worth noting that this is the theme of this year's campaign by PES Women for the International Women's Day.
She went on to criticise the fact that women remain largely left out from top positions in the economic and political life. We need more women in decision-making positions across society", urged Marini, acknowledging however that in regional assemblies across the EU, women's representation continues to improve, albeit at a slow rate, reaching 33.3% in November 2017. "More effective measures to facilitate work-life balance are essential", she stressed.
President Marini reminded that violence against women remains the most widespread violation of human rights all over the world. "Statistics are shameful in this respect", she said, reminding that still today in Europe, one in three women has experienced either physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15 and that 75% of women in qualified professional role have been sexually harassed. "Zero tolerance to violence against women, in Europe but also worldwide, is the only way forward", she added, reminding that fighting this trend and empowering women is a first step towards global peace and security and the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Catiuscia Marini concluded by pointing to the risks of sexist advertising, welcoming the initiative of the S&D Group in the European Parliament to launch a “Platform of Progressive Cities against Sexist Advertisement”.
"Women continue to be misrepresented in the media and this not only impacts negatively their professional and everyday life but also has wider societal repercussions, perpetuating regressive and stereotypical mindsets", she said, adding: "We, as locally and regionally elected progressives, have to fight this negative trend and promote gender equality, a fundamental value of the EU enshrined in its Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights".