Human Rights & Democracy

EU rings a bell for gender equality

08/03/2019 - 11:30
News stories

Equality is a core value of the European Union, and a principle we will keep fighting for. Equality between women and men is no exception.

gender equality

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. It is a global moment to both reflect on advances in women’s empowerment and gender equality, and push for further progress. It is a key moment to highlight the EU’s commitment to promoting gender equality worldwide, showcasing key results and success stories and inspiring continued action.

International Women's Day is also an opportunity to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, to effectively implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

The achievement of the ambitious SDGs requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

In a message marking Women's Day, the European Union states that "Europe ranks among the safest and most equal places for girls and women in the world. The number of women in employment has reached historically high levels in the EU. More and more women are in positions of power today. That is something we can be proud of. But that does not mean that we are there yet or that these achievements should be taken for granted. Also in Europe many women are still facing challenges, inequalities and threats in their everyday lives: abuse and harassment, lower wages, fewer job and career opportunities. And that is unacceptable."

The EU goes on to say that "Gender equality is also at the core of our continuous engagement with partner countries worldwide. The EU is striving to accelerate the efforts towards gender equality in the different fields of its external action, as part of the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. All around the world, we remain strongly committed to implement actions fighting all forms of violence against women and girls, including those affected by war, poverty or displacement, for example through our global Spotlight Initiative together with the United Nations."

The EU is committed to giving all women and girls equal access to health services, education and economic empowerment, and the opportunities to shape their own future.


EU partners to celebrate women and gender equality around the world


Think equal, build smart, innovate for change

The UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’. The theme focuses on innovative ways in which the private sector can advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure. Through the WE EMPOWER programme, the EU, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women will contribute to promoting gender equality globally. The programme places women’s economic empowerment at the heart of the Future of Work agenda and will help strengthen connections between women entrepreneur associations in Europe with those in fellow G7 countries. The partnership between the EU and UN Women to encourage the private sector to expand economic participation and business opportunities for women in Latin America has only recently been extended to seven countries in Asia.


Ring the Bell Initiative

For the fifth consecutive year, a global collaboration across stock exchanges around the world rings ‘The Bell for Gender Equality’. This year, the EU is partnering with this UN Women led initiative in co-hosting the now traditional bell ringing events in a number of Latin American and G7 countries. Both organisations applaud the work on promoting gender equality achieved so far and encourage stock exchanges to take further action to improve gender equality in their markets.

In March 2018, a record 65 exchanges rang their bells for gender equality, and this year looks set to be even bigger. 


Promoting Equal Rights for Women in Syria

In Syria, culture and tradition have limited women’s participation in public and political life. For any political transition to be successful, women must also be involved in decision-making. Democracy can only be present if such human rights as gender equality are respected.


Supporting Transition towards Democracy in Syria through Preparing for an Engendered Constitution Building Process’ is a project co-funded by the EU and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency,  aimed to promote the role of women in Syria by strengthening the capacity of lawyers and human rights activists – both female and male, laying the foundations for a Syrian society based on gender equality, reconciliation and peace. "When the time comes for writing the new constitution of Syria, we will have the knowledge and tools to push for the inclusion of women’s rights," noted Narevan Bahsas, one of the participants in the project. 


Kenyan women for President

In Kenya, as in most of Africa, women are usually not found in leadership positions. They are not generally perceived to have the skills, knowledge or social status needed to bring about meaningful change in post-conflict environments.

“Ms President” is an EU funded reality show aimed at building sustainable female leadership capacity in Kenya by showcasing articulate, intelligent, fair-minded women who are “presidential candidates”. 


This entertaining, educating and thought provoking reality TV series aired on a popular Kenyan TV station portrays to a national audience the ability of women to lead effectively. 


#InspiredByHer #EU4Women

To mark Women's Day the EU also embarked on an intitive encouraging the nomination of inspiring women by staff and partners worldwide. 


"We will never stop fighting for true equality for all inside and outside the European Union to make sure that the progress achieved is not undone,” the EU concluded in its message on Women's Day.