The European Union must step up efforts to reduce gender inequality
Today, Marc Tarabella, a Belgian socialist, won over a majority of MEPs in the European Parliament committee on women's rights and gender equality for the introduction of a paid paternity leave of a minimum of 10 working days and the recognition of women's rights to abortion and contraception.
These proposals are part of the annual report on gender equality which has been adopted by the parliamentary commission with 24 votes in favour against 9.
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Marc Tarabella said:
"In modern society, I feel it is crucial to allow fathers to exercise their right to reconcile their professional and their private life by granting them paternity leave. For these fathers it means spending more time with their young infant. A quarter of the European Union countries have no measures planned. Yet, it is a prerequisite for the guarantee of gender equality.
"Likewise, every woman is free to manage her own body. Thus, they must have easy access to contraception and abortion. It would be unacceptable to go back on this right which has been vehemently fought for and acquired by women".
The MEP concluded:
"Reluctance remains. I am proud of having obtained a majority on these two fundamental questions within the women's committee today. I hope we will be able to confirm this result during the final vote in the plenary session held in March. I appeal to all the progressives of this assembly; there are many of them. Last week, a majority of MEPs asked the Commission not to withdraw the directive on maternity leave during the vote of the Socialists and Democrats' resolution on the Commission's Work Programme for 2015. I feel optimistic that they will stand up once more in March to promote gender equality."
Marie Arena, socialist MEP and spokesperson for the committee on women's rights and gender equality of the S&D Group, added:
"Generally speaking, the situation did not improve in 2014. Women are more affected by the economic and social crisis than men. Thus, 22% of older women risk falling into poverty compared to 16.3% of men."
"The wage gap between men and women remains high at approximately 16.4%. Only 63% of women are working although Europe's target for women's employment rate in 2020 has been set at 75%.
"At the current rate, we would have to wait until 2038 to reach this goal and 2084 for equal pay to become reality. Needless to say, a lot of work lies ahead."