The Progressive Post

“We are calling for a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe”

Interview with Maria Noichl, SPD MEP and rapporteur in the European Parliament for the Gender Equality Strategy

04/03/2020

The European Commission has just launched its much-awaited Gender Equality Strategy on the 5th of March, setting the tone for its actions on gender equality in the 2020-2025 period. The Strategy places a strong focus on achieving a “gender equal Europe where gender-based violence, sex discrimination and structural inequality between women an men are thing of the past”. 

Therefore, by bringing a progressive lens to the Gender Strategy, FEPS and FES raise the question: Does Europe Care for Care? In this context, Maria Noichl, Member of the European Parliament (Germany) and Coordinator of the S&D Group, shared her insights with us in the interview below. 

2020 is already hailed as a major focal point in the journey towards gender equality. Significant anniversaries and milestones are in the horizon and Ursula von der Leyen, first female Commission President, asked Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli to develop a new EU Gender Equality Strategy (2020-2024). Are you confident that the pace of equality in the European Union will truly accelerate in this term?

Yes! In the last 5 years, we had to live with small steps and setbacks in this regard:   The withdrawal of the proposal for a maternity leave directive, the persistent blockage of the directive on women on boards , the adoption of a watered down directive on work life balance, and the lack of a European strategy for gender equality. This time, the outlook is indeed much better: a new strategy including important legislative and non-legislative measures to reduce inequalities was announced right at the beginning, the Commissioner for Equality is ready to fight for women’s rights and we as socialists are ready to fight with her.

The Gender Equality Strategy is expected to be launched on the occasion of the International Women’s Day in March by the European Commission. What will be the key demands from The Progressives to ensure that the Strategy translates into ambitious responses to the persisting gender gaps in Europe?

We are calling forWe are calling for a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe in the form of an action plan a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe in the form of an action plan.

We are calling for a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe in the form of an action plan. The strategy needs to be a clear sign of progress and against backlashes and attacks on women’s rights and gender equality. We are calling for a strategy that is a political statement and underlines that every policy made in the EU needs to advance women’s rights and gender equality with the aim of ending all forms of discrimination that women suffer in all their diversity.

In terms of concrete action, we want to see the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, in order to create a holistic approach in all EU Member States to fight, prevent and prosecute violence against women. We want legislative measures on pay transparency and sanctions in the case of non-compliance and we want support for the fight against stereotypes and structures leading to inequality, in order to tackle the root causes of discrimination.

In order to bring about real transformation for gender equality and social justice, the place of care – both paid and unpaid – is of central importance In the face of growing populations, ageing societies, changing family patterns and the increasing need for adequate infrastructures for work/family life reconciliation, how can the EU deliver concrete and urgent actions ?

Stereotypes are keeping women and men from living the equal lives they should be able to be living.

The EU can support the work of the Member States as well as taking own action on this. The Barcelona targets, still not achieved in all EU Member States, need to be revised and to evolve. We need to support high quality and accessible care infrastructure for all, in order to guarantee women’s economic independence. The implementation of the so-called work-life balance directive will soon start to make a difference in the Member States. However, we should already start the discussion about how to further strengthen its scope and how to support the equal earner and equal carer model, that men and women should be able to live. Stereotypes are keeping women and men from living the equal lives they should be able to be living. Therefore, I think, the European Union should be more active in deconstructing stereotypes and pointing out structural discrimination. This should be done with an eye on right-wing and populist movements: We must stand behind our achievements, defend and further develop these, in order to give women and men in all their diversity the right framework to live, share and thrive equally.  

————————————————————————————————————————————

The Foundation for European Progressive Studies and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung started a Social Democratic Initiative for the EU Gender Equality Strategy, placing the role of care work and care jobs in achieving gender equality at the center of our common activities in 2020 and raising the question: Does Europe Care for Care? By promoting networking throughout Europe between stakeholders and identifying similarities, differences and best practices across EU countries, concrete policy recommendations will be developed with the objective of feeding into concrete measures both national and

Find all related publications
Publications
19/02/2024

Women CSO leaders for systemic change

How to support feminist leadership in Europe
01/02/2024

Bridging the gender pay gap in the Western Balkans?

A country case study of Croatia, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia
26/09/2023

‘Abortion in the EU’ – Country fact sheets

Multispeed access to abortion across member states
26/09/2023

Abortion in the European Union

Actors, issues and discourse
Find all related events
Events
Past
23/02/2024
Barcelona, Spain

Accelerating progress

Towards a feminist future of work, without violence against women and from a European perspective
09 - 10/02/2024
Hungary and Serbia (Training)

Gender equality: How to pursue it in the context of right wing, authoritarian regimes?

The cases of Hungary and Serbia
19/02/2024
Mundo Madou, Brussels

Women CSO leaders for systemic change

How to support feminist leadership in Europe
Find all related news
News
23/01/2024

Call for tender – FFP Research and network coordinator

This call for tender is now closed.
17/01/2024

Call for submissions – FFPPVC policy brief series

This call for tender closed on 16/02/2024
08/09/2023

The Feminist Foreign Policy Progressive Voices Collective (FFPPVC)

A collective to promote a feminist and progressive approach to foreign policy
23/05/2023

A credible future beyond growth has to be feminist

This article was first published on EUobserver
Find all related in the media
In the media

A credible future beyond growth has to be feminist

by euobserver 17/05/2023
Euobserver article about the #BeyondGrowth conference mentions FEPS 'Defining Care' Policy Brief

Pay transparency can help close the gender pay gap but at what cost?

by Euronews 31/08/2022

How many inequalities can the world fight at the same time?

by Social Europe 07/07/2022

Rebutting the assaults on gender equality

by Social Europe 08/03/2022