Women mobilise for women

- 2009/12/12 -
Just as the time to take decisions with regard to appointing the titleholders of the most important non-elective jobs in the European Union draws closer, women, who already hold prestigious positions in Europe, are mobilising so that female representation within the European political organisations does not decline as has been predicted.
Indeed just as the percentage of women commissioners had risen from 25% in the Santer Commission to 30% in the outgoing college the proposals that have been made to date by the Member States indicate that this percentage may very well decline to 15% in the next Commission! This is an unbearable step backwards against which female commissioners, MEPs and national MPs are mobilizing.
Hence Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission, Diana Wallis, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner, signed a joint letter on 15th November in the Financial Times bearing the provocative title “The Right Man in the Right Job is often a Woman”. In this letter they asked the European leaders to appoint a woman to take the function of President of the European Council or the head of EU diplomacy during their extraordinary summit on 19th November because this would make “Europe richer and more representative and also bring it closer to the citizens.” Former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga whose name was put forward as a potential future president of the European Council is notably quoted in the letter. Ms Wallström already spoke of this on 26th October saying that “from a democratic point of view it is incredible that women who represent 52.6% of Europeans are ignored. It is unacceptable in 2009.”
A group of MEPs, from all political trends, spoke along the same lines on 17th November during a joint press conference. Britta Thomsen (S&D) said the greatest reason to abstain during the European elections (or to vote negatively during referendums) on the part of women was that they did not feel adequately represented by an overly masculine Europe. Diana Wallis (ALDE) and Marije Cornelissen (Greens/ALE) were quick to point to a possibility of a rejection on the part of the European Parliament of a Commission which did not comprise at least as many women as in the first Barroso Commission. Other MEPs already spoke in this vein on 12th November on the site Ms Wallis invited Mr Barroso to stop his "friendly litlle nudges" to the Member States and take a firm stance in support of a Commission that not only takes on board political and geographical balance but also that of gender. The British politician also warned against a situation “worthy of Saudi Arabia” and against “the totally unedifying spectacle” of the selection procedure of the highest ranking European jobs.
The following day Ms Wallis led a small delegation of MEPs dressed in suit and tie brandishing their CVs intending to demonstrate provocatively against the discrimination they feel they suffer as women.