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A woman’s place is in Europe

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European Parliament

Una Purdie
WVoN co-editor 

What has Europe ever done for women?

If you listened to some parts of the UK media, European institutions do nothing but create messy bureaucracy and meddle in sovereign affairs.

Others would argue that it has been a beacon of progress for gender equality, and we need to work together more, not less, to build better societies.

And indeed, to get Europe out of the fine economic mess it has gotten itself into…

Equality between men and women is one of the European Union’s founding values – the principle of equal pay for equal work goes back to the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Not that European employers always seem to take notice…

There have certainly been many positive steps to tackle gender-related issues at a European level, which recently included measures to combat trafficking and protect victims of crimes such as gender-based violence across the continent.

There’s also been a lot of legislation to combat gender discrimination.

Yet today on this site we’re reporting the same old stories of unequal pay, age discrimination against women, and the dearth of women in boardrooms.

So what difference has Europe made over the years, and what measures should or shouldn’t it do in future to advance the cause of gender equality?

On March 2nd, in the run-up to International Women’s Day, the European Parliament’s London office is hosting a debate to discuss these and other issues.

It should be a lively event.

Amongst the speakers are two Members of the European Parliament who are on the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, the Conservative Marina Yannakoudakis (who has guest posted for WVoN here) and Labour’s Mary Honeyball (also written for us – here). They have opposing views on issues like boardroom quotas, but have worked together in other areas like promoting women entrepreneurs.

Also on the panel is Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds MP and businesswoman, and Weekend Financial Times columnist Heather McGregor.

Journalist Shirin Wheeler , presenter of  The Record Europe, is moderator.

Women’s Views on News are going to be there too – we’re hosting a live forum to report and debate the issues online.

We will be looking for your questions and points to put to the panel, both before and during the event.

We’ll also be writing about some of the issues over the coming month.

In the meantime, if you’re in the London area and would like to attend, details can be found here.

Please email the European Parliament to book your seat: lucinda.pickersgill@europarl.europa.eu

Otherwise, make note and follow the debate online with us.

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