Speech of Michael Roth – Symposium “For Shared Governance”, National Assembly

Speech of Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe of the Federal Republic of Germany

Guest of honour at the Symposium “For Shared Governance, #JamaisSansElles, Gender Equality in Action”, Hôtel de Lassay, National Assembly, 17 June 2019.

Tatiana I feel really really honoured to be here. It’s a huge privilege and I learned a lot. And that’s exactly what Europe is: to learn from each other, to learn together to make a better world and to be committed to a better Europe. And thanks for my new colleague, my distinguished friend Amelie for joining us.

Last year in September, I had the pleasure to welcome Tatiana and her team in Berlin. I signed the #JamaisSansElles charter. Since then, I’ve done my best to comply with it. I must say this charter is a very powerful instrument. When you say: “Sorry but I can’t take part in this discussion, there are just men around the table”, there are still people who don’t believe you mean it seriously. But as you stand to it, they get it. And they change their organisation. Because it’s not so complicated to get smart and competent women on board. Then at the end of the day, it works and it brings changes. So thank you for that.

The #JamaisSansElles commitment is a matter of justice. If one half of mankind has not it’s say, something is not right. In this matter, this statement of #JamaisSansElles is a matter of fair representativeness. As you put it, dear Tatiana, it’s a matter of humanism. And here I’d like to make something clear, because I know many men who see such initiatives as targeting them, excluding them. #JamaisSansElles is not against men. #JamaisSansElles is for men with women. It’s not about exclusion, it’s about inclusion. The whole idea is about getting together and working better together. Indeed that’s not only a matter of principle. Having women on board, promoting shared governance is also for the sake of efficiency. When we bring together different perspectives, we make things work better. When we take into consideration all the perspectives, all the implications of an issue, the decisions that come out are better, fairer and more sustainable.

It’s a very special concern to me to make Europe and politics in general more colourful, more diverse and yes, more feminine. The new European Parliament will have 39% female members, up from 36% in the previous assembly. It’s rising, slowly, but it’s rising. We may have hoped for a better gender balanced assembly, but we should also acknowledge the progress that’s being made, however limited it may be. The upcoming leading team in Brussels will have to be up to the challenges on that matter. It is crucial that the top positions in Brussels are filled on the basis of gender equality. What’s in our hands for the time being: fight at our level for feminist European politics.

A core issue: gender budgeting. Because equalities start with budgetary policy. For example, if you spend more money on projects in the agricultural or the infrastructure sector, it’s more likely to benefit men who are traditionally overrepresented in this sector. On the other hand, if you cut public funds in the local transport sector, this tends to affect more women. Gender budgeting sounds complicated, but is actually quite simple. We undertake to check every issue carefully. Who is the target group who benefits from it? And how gender equitable is it? I do believe, dear friends, we should follow at the EU level the example of our Swedish colleagues who have already made important progress on that.

Together we have set the EU’s new strategic budget on a path toward gender equality. In the council we have made it clear that actions in EU programmes must be gender mainstreamed. On the external dimension we have translated our commitment into concrete figures. 85% of our prime future external instrument should pursue gender equality as a significant objective. This should deliver structural changes to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and turn gender equality into one of the hallmarks of our future EU external action.

Equal participation of women, shared governance, not a side issue, not a secondary question, but at the very heart of our common fundamental values in the EU. Shall I recall that equality between men and women is explicitly mentioned in article II of the EU treaty, as well as in the charter of fundamental rights. There is still a long way to go and the road isn’t easy, it’s particularly worrying that some politicians, some heads of states and governments in Europe and in the world challenge nowadays the progress that has been made over the past decades in the field of women’s rights and participation. No time to lower our guard. We have to be watchful. We have to be cautious and for that, we need to stand together and to rely on relevant instruments. I’d like once again to thank Tatiana, #JamaisSansElles, for the wonderful tool they have given us. Nous devons continuer ensemble #JamaisSansElles et #JamaisSansEux.

#JamaisSansElles Symposium « For Shared Governance » at the National Assembly

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