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Women Of Europe

  • March 9th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

merkel-bxl-council-dec-06.jpg queen.jpg Women leaders of the European Union focused attention on the role of women in the current struggle in Libya, among the list of concerns published to mark the 100th world women’s day (8.3.11).

The commemoration launched by British suffragettes took on new life with the feminist movement that surged after the International Women’s Year, 1975.

In Strasbourg this week, a joint statement by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and European Commission Vice President, Viviane Reding, revisited themes from that time:

“We take this opportunity to reiterate jointly our commitment to promote women’s rights and gender equality …

“This year’s theme, ‘Equal access to education, training and science and technology’, is a fundamental one …

“Investing globally in girls’ education spurs economic growth and political participation. Literacy and numeracy equip women for economic independence, increasing their chances of achieving their full potential.

“Women have played a crucial role in bringing about change in Northern Africa. Amidst violence, women have joined the struggle for change.

“We hope that the key role that women have played so far will be reflected fully in the institutional changes that are already under discussion in the region. Women must be at the heart of the discussions over the future order.

“International Women’s Day also reminds us that many women around the world continue to face inequality. They earn less and own less than men …

“Every day, thousands of women and girls are victims of gender-based violence, including sexual abuse, trafficking and early and forced marriage.”


Female leaders in public life have been prominent in the European Union, this year occupying nine of 53 positions as heads of state or heads of government:

Chancellor Angela Merkel (picture, above), of the biggest member state, Germany; Queen Elizabeth of Britain (picture); Mary McAleese, President of Ireland; Queen Margrette of Denmark; Tarja Halonen, President, and Mari Kiviniemi, Prime Minister of Finland; Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands; Prime Minister Veta Radicova of Slovenia; and President Dalia Grybavskaite, of Lithuania.

quentin-bryce.jpgIn Australia, marking the day, the Governor General, Quentin Bryce (picture), proposed affirmative action for corporate executives who are women, wishing them reserved quotas on company boards.

Apart from Ms Bryce, and the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, three of the six Australian State Premiers also are of the female persuasion.


EU, Strasbourg, “Joint Statement by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-president of the European Commission Catherine Ashton and European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding on the International Women’s Day”, MEMO/11/146, 8.3.11.