On Wednesday people around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day to reaffirm their commitment to women’s rights.
I want to associate myself to this event and invite you to join me in the struggle to lift women out of the second-class status in which too many are still kept.
Progress has been made in recent decades in Europe. Awareness about women’s rights has increased in many countries, political participation has risen and laws are promoting equal rights and equal opportunities for women in a growing number of countries.
Nonetheless, old and new obstacles remain on women’s path to equality. Women are still over-represented in lower paid jobs or get lower salaries than men for equal jobs. They often remain sidelined in political and economic decision-making and many cannot make free choices about their bodies.
All these factors have a common denominator: a patriarchal organisation of society which relegates women to subordinate roles. This is irreconcilable with human rights and a vision of equality and dignity for all.
Let’s change this situation and make Europe a place where all women live the life they want, free from gender-based violence and free from sexism.
We all have a role to play to promote a society based on gender equality. We have to treat our daughters and sons equally. We have to ensure that girls have access to quality education. We have to fight for a health system which upholds women’s rights and a society which portrays a dignified image of women.
There are millions of ordinary women and men out there doing extraordinary things to achieve that goal. I want to salute their commitment, their courage and their determination and I invite you to add your voice to the call for laws, policies and behaviours that finally respect women’s dignity. This is a struggle we have to engage in every day, not only on 8 March.