Opening of the exhibition "Women’s Power. The Centennial Anniversary of Suffrage Rights in Poland"

Strasbourg , 

Check against delivery

Ambassador, Vice-President of the European Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be with you for the opening of this exhibition.

From the vantage point of 2019 it is easy to take women’s suffrage for granted, and important to remind ourselves of how recently this right was won.

In the case of Poland, the franchise was extended during the lifetime of some of our grandparents.

For many countries in Europe, it was even more recent than that: recent, but essential.

Because without universal suffrage, democracy is incomplete.

It is our privilege and our duty to guard the right to vote for every woman and man.

But democratic life is also incomplete without citizens’ full and active participation in civic and economic life.

This exhibition shows just what kind of contribution women have been able to make to Poland’s modern history – often despite the odds.

Those achievements are varied and remarkable – in politics, education, science and the professions, as well as in bringing about social change.

Their stories should act as a reminder that where women are free to participate, they provide different ideas and perspectives – and the contributions that they make benefit not only women, but each and every one of us, and society as a whole.

Still today, in all our member states, those contributions are not as far-reaching as they could be.

We will only change that when we confront the fundamental causes of disparity and discrimination – and, with that in mind, I warmly welcome the Committee of Ministers’ decision today to adopt a new Recommendation on preventing and combating sexism.

This provides the first ever international definition of sexism and calls on member states to tackle it online, in the workplace and beyond.

So we thank Poland’s Permanent Representation for bringing this exhibition here today.

It marks an important moment for Poland, and for Polish women in particular:

A milestone on the journey for women’s rights – for human rights – that continues to the benefit of us all.