On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Members of the European Parliament discussed the socio-economic situation of women in the EU with Commissioner Věra Jourová.
GUE/NGL MEPs told the Commissioner that equality cannot be achieved with austerity and also called for a revival of the maternity leave directive withdrawn by the Commission in July 2015.
For Portuguese MEP, Marisa Matias, International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating the equality of rights, which still has to be achieved, and the removal of differences between women and men. “This is something we repeat year after year and that’s because the situation of women is straightforward: inequality is increasing, the pay gap is increasing, unemployment among women is increasing and violence against women is increasing.”
“It is important for the Commission not to deal with the socio-economic situation of women just by quotas or fine speeches – it is a political problem. Our efforts so far have been a failure; recognising this would be a good start. This Commission got off to a bad start when it withdrew the maternity and paternity directive. Reviving that would be a good signal.“
Portuguese MEP, João Pimenta Lopes, said the Commission had made all kinds of promises in its approach to gender-based issues. “But these have had a negative impact because of austerity policies which worsen discrimination, inequality and the exploitation of women.”
“Women are most affected by poverty, unemployment, insecure jobs and wage discrimination. We need to look at the maternity directive again and we have to improve the work-life balance. That means we have to work against the deregulation of working time.” He told the Commission “You can’t promote equality unless you have social progress and you can’t have that with austerity.“
For Spanish MEP Tania González Peñas, combatting machoism and creating equality in Europe is something that should happen every day as inequality is rampant in the EU, including in power structures. “Look at this Parliament where only 10 out of 25 Committee chairs are women.” She continued: “Unemployment rates are high for women; there is a pay gap and a pension gap that goes way beyond that of 16%.
“Austerity policies have hit women twice as hard which means they are bearing the brunt of austerity. People are calling out for equality. We must respond to these calls.”