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Shock rejection of gender equality report highlights again struggles women face

Press Release

Tuesday 11 Mar 2014

Independent MEP Nessa Childers says gender equality needs prioritising more than ever following the European Parliament’s shock rejection of the Zuber report.
Today the EU Parliament dismissed the proposed Equality Between Men And Women In The European Union report – a move which prompted, as Ms Childers observed from the chamber,  lots of ‘pounding’ on desks around her by far right MEPs.
‘It’s going to be a busy year for European Parliament heavy-weights: presidents for the European Commission and the European Council; a head of the European External Action Service and a speaker of the Parliament are all needed before the end of 2014,’ Ms Childers observed from her office in Strasbourg.
‘But it is vital that at least one of these high-profile posts is filled by a female candidate,’ she said.
‘At the moment, commentators are trying to single out the frontrunners, and I sadly note that none of them are women.
‘I think if the EU is going to promote gender equality it would be quite a contradiction to then declare “apologies, but not one female candidate was of sufficient merit to make it to the top”.’
The Zuber report – named after its Portuguese author MEP Inês Cristina Zuber – had included in its recommendations the introduction of across-the-board gender quotas. It was widely expected to the voted through, however, the report’s liberal stance on the likes of abortion and LGBT rights may have put off more conservative members.
Ms Childers said in response: ‘I do support gender quotas and I have seen similar programmes work to great effect in other European countries, so of course I am disappointed that this equality report has been rejected.’
She continued: ‘This year, women in Europe will work 59 days for free – that is women putting in two months of additional work for the same money.
‘Ireland has the misfortune of being one of the countries, along with Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Bulgaria and Spain, in which the gender pay gap has actually increased in recent years.
‘We know that by being female you will face more challenges in the workplace than your male colleagues – so we need to support women to realise all of their potential.’
Ms Childers concluded: ‘The availability of affordable childcare facilities allows women to build successful careers and contribute to the economy and I hope our Government absolutely prioritises this issue.’