Celebrating Women: Anti-Discrimination EU-style

Readers of this column will certainly be familiar with International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8th, and they may well be making their own plans to celebrate it.  So is the European parliament.

The parliament is proud of its bold record in opposing gender discrimination: this of course is why we have a Women’s Committee (FEMM).  It happens that on the big day, we shall all be at a plenary session in Strasbourg, and we shall be debating inter alia a couple of FEMM reports.  I have just had sight of a draft plan of the parliament’s proposals to mark the event.  After the FEMM reports, and before the vote, they plan a formal celebration.

The President of the parliament, Jerzy Buzek MEP, will invite all the women Vice-Presidents of parliament, and the women Quaestors, to join him on the podium.  An additional line of seats will be set out at the front, for all the women Chairmen of Committees and Inter-parliamentary Delegations.  The Commission will join in, fielding all its women Commissioners — so we shall have another chance to admire our very own Baroness Ashton.

There will be a special three-minute video presentation reflecting the history of International Women’s Day down the ages.  It will feature maternity; women’s unemployment; women in science; equal pay; quotas on management boards; and violence against women.  After that, we shall be treated to speeches from the triple Presidency — of the parliament, the Commission and the Council (any comparison to the Trinity would be entirely inappropriate), followed by the routine speeches from each political group — who, it is suggested, may like to field women for the purpose.

The plan doesn’t mention it, but I have no doubt that they will play the “European Anthem”, which will afford me a welcome opportunity to sit down for a while.  At the end, all the 257 women MEPs will be invited to join a women-only photo-call.

And in a delightful touch, a bouquet of flowers will be placed on the seats of all 257 women.

Only a cynic, surely, would regard these plans as demeaning and patronising to women.  Given that gender equality is a cross-cutting issue which is being mainstreamed into all aspects of the EU’s activities, I just can’t wait to see what they’re planning to do for International Men’s Day.


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14 Responses to Celebrating Women: Anti-Discrimination EU-style

  1. Mike Spilligan says:

    International Women’s Day never got a mention here up to about a decade ago, and even now doesn’t get “marked” to any extent.
    I first came across it in Eastern Europe from 1991, then when I lived in Russia for seven years, where the working day ended early and the vodka bottles were opened for serial toasts – for the men only of course, while the women were “invited” to go home early.

  2. James A. Hutchinson says:

    Surely this discriminates against the males ? Only joking ; what could be more appropriate than the waste of thousands of pounds ( euros )in these dire times not to mention the waste of time of all members of this corrupt club .
    The European Union is a sick joke in all it’s forms .

  3. Leanne says:

    “…I just can’t wait to see what they (sic) are planning for International Men’s Day”.

    Perhaps this, ‘Giving Boys The Best Possible Start In Life’: http://www.international-mens-day.com/Boys.php

    I wonder what the other “they’s” will think of this theme?


    • Pimpernel says:

      What do you think “they’s” referred to Leanne out of interest? I think it was the European Parliament under the remit of its President. I suspect you thought it meant women.. Oh dear oh dear.

      I assume you will be supporting the European Court which will possibly be stating that cheaper insurance for women is breaking equality laws? Probably not?

  4. Leanne says:

    To be honest I didn’t know who the “theys” were. There is certainly no need to manufacture an argument where there is none.

    You say I probably wouldnt support a statement by the European Court about cheaper insurance for women braking equality laws. Why would you make that assumption about a person you know nothing about? I recommend you relax a little.

    I support both you and all moves by the EU Court to adress equality issues across the board. I also fully support both International woman’s day and International Men’s day, and hope the latter gets a little attention for tjis year’s theme ‘boys’.

    Wishing you all the best


  5. Pimpernel says:

    If you didn’t know who they theys were (though it seems apparent from reading the blogpost) what did you mean when you wrote, ‘I wonder what the other “they’s” will think of this theme.’

    So you think we need two days to celebrate 100% of the population. Good grief…. time to get out I think.

  6. Leanne says:

    And yes i agree- having cheaper rates for insurance for women is unfair and breaks with equality. No doubt a twisted logic will be proffered arguing for it’s continuance, which one hopes will be voted down unanimously. Likewise i know of numerous payment inequities faced by women, even down to paying more for a haircut than a male (for the same cut). Both genders are victims in different areas and its about time we recongnized the fact.

    • Pimpernel says:

      The same poor women paying more for their haircut and then getting into a club for free when men have to pay. Just terrible.

    • Leanne — this is nuts. The whole point of insurance is that premiums reflect risk, based on actual statistics. You can’t abandon the whole basis of an industry for a vacuous notion of “equality”. Or do you think that a man of 90 should be able to buy life insurance on the same basis as a man of 25, in order to avoid “ageism”?

  7. Leanne says:

    Hostility between genders gets nobody anywhere.

    • Pimpernel says:

      No hostility, and completely no point in 2 days to celebrate 100% of the population.

      Maybe a day to celebrate blue sky and green grass?

      I note you still never explained what you meant when you wrote, ‘I wonder what the other “they’s” will think of this theme.’ Bizarre.

  8. When you think about the many great achievements of women (particularly since the abandonment of sexist attitudes) in the areas of business, literature and art (for example) – ceremonial gestures such as this, certainly do seem patronising. Surely, genuine recognition for the achievements of women as individuals is far more meaningful?

  9. Often, the perceived hostility between men and women is simply an excuse to express other forms of resentment (such as jealousy or rivalry). It is also morally wrong, and serves no valid purpose in any civilised society.

  10. Sally Roberts says:

    Roger, you miss the point! For thousands of years EVERY day was “International MEN’S Day”! I think it is great to celebrate the empowerment of women and to encourage countries which are – shall we say – rather more backward in this respect – to do more.

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