International Women’s Day – “Closing the Gender Pay Gap, stop violence against women”

"Make it happen", is the United Nations' motto for this year's International Women's Day. This day has been celebrated for over 100 years now and since 1977 the United Nations have been calling on people to mark the day with events across the globe on 8 March. This year is no different - worldwide, many thousands of people are standing up for equal rights and opportunities for women in various initiatives and rallies.

International Women’s Day – “Closing the Gender Pay Gap, stop violence against women”

Kirsten Lühmann, President of CESI’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) makes the following declaration to mark International Women’s Day:

“Even in Europe, International Women’s Day is not just an excuse for bleeding heart liberals to pat themselves on the back. Rather, issues remain which  we must take seriously: on average, women still earn over 16 per cent less than men, women in top company posts are still, for the most part, in a minority or nowhere to be seen. In their private lives, too, women mostly have significantly more work to do than their male partners. 

Alongside the topics it has cited, the new Commission wants in particular to tackle violence against women with a greater resolve as well as fight ‘harmful practices’ – damaging ‘traditional’ practices such as genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour killings. CESI supports the Commission in these goals and also calls upon the Member States to check what else can be done to protect women.  

A study carried out in 2014 by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights presented a sobering picture of the situation in which women find themselves in the 28 EU Member States. According to its findings, one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, 20 per cent have been stalked and half of all women have been confronted with one or several forms of sexual harassment. Such circumstances are absolutely unacceptable and we cannot put up with them. 

Against this backdrop, it is encouraging that the European Commission is clearly giving serious thought to the European Union signing up to the  Istanbul Convention (‘European Council Agreement on Preventing and  Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence’). Furthermore, the agreement has not yet been signed by all EU Member States and has only been ratified in one third of the States. This urgently needs to change. 

EU Commissioner for Equal Opportunities Vĕra Jourová is putting together a new equal opportunities strategy which will be ready by the end of this year. CESI will make its position known on the important issues regarding policies on women and will continue to lobby for more equality of opportunities through its own initiatives and proposals.”