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GUE/NGL Press: Women's rights in Europe and the world


10 Dec 2010


Euro & Finance
Social Europe & Jobs

Opening the conference on Women's rights in Europe and the world  in the European Parliament today, Swedish GUE/NGL MEP Eva-Britt Svensson, who is chair of the Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, said we live in a "gender-based world" and gender inequalities are everywhere. "Women are discriminated against because they are women, and that is a fact".


It was important now more than ever before to discuss the strategy needed to strengthen women's rights, particularly in the context of the current economic and financial crisis, she said "This crisis is not only affecting our economies, but also other areas such as the environment and climate. But above all it is women who are paying the price," she added.

"The left must look for answers and solutions to the crisis, not in the current neo-liberal responses, which are geared to the elite, but responses that will allow us to create a better society and a better world for all."

According to Portuguese GUE/NGL MEP Ilda Figueiredo, "current neoliberal policies are having negative repercussions on all our countries and societies, particularly women." And, she warned, things will only get worse in the years to come, with even greater poverty in the EU.

She spoke about the "huge contradictions between EU policies, characterised by measures to combat poverty while decisions are being taken that are making the poverty situation even worse." She denounced Member States' current austerity plans as being "anti-social" and creating intolerable situations for women, pensioners, the unemployed. She said European social model risks being destroyed and this is one of the major challenges facing us today. "We can get a new and better world, but we'll have to fight very hard for it," she concluded.

Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL Spain) said "the battle for equality was a crucial one and gender equality is part of it". He told conference participants that the GUE/NGL was engaged in this battle in its parliamentary work but reminded them that two-thirds of this Parliament was right-wing and that equality was not their top priority. "This makes the battle even more important," he said.

He accused the EU and its Member States of being incapable of properly planning the economy and said that the result of recent measures introduced by them was to create "unprecedented inequalities in the EU - the situation has not been this bad since the 1930s," he said. The task for the left was to provide an alternative to the current economic model and to redress the huge setbacks in terms of democracy and individual freedoms which are only some of the outcomes of this crisis.

Dutch MEP Kartika Liotard spoke of the GUE/NGL group's "trump card" that so many of its MEPs were involved with work on gender equality. Her own work in Parliament involved pensions in general and the rights of older women in particular.

"The differences between the situation of women and men in older life starts with the difference of treatment and the discrimination encountered when women are young," she said, evoking differences in access to work, to different functions, wage disparities, which go on right through women's working lives and enhance the risk that women fall into poverty at all stages during their lives, but particularly during later life.

She evoked the Commission's recent Green Paper on  pensions which clearly says we have to clean up social security, particularly pensions. "This is not a solution and will create situations in which older women will have an increased risk of poverty in later life."

"To ensure a suitable and sustainable future of older women, it is important that the debate is centred on what older people need and what younger people want, not on the views of bankers and pension funds," she concluded.

Gianfranco Battistini + 32 475 64 66 28
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
David Lundy + 32 485 50 58 12
Gauche Unitaire Européenne/Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group


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