Women have been hit hard by the crisis: they are more likely to work part-time, unemployment has increased and social services have been cut. This year's International Women's Day on 8 March will be dedicated to how they are weathering the economic crisis. Boosting women's participation in the job market will be key to any recovery, but how could the EU help? The EP's women's rights committee approved on 19 February an own-initiative report setting out what measures are needed.
February 14 is traditionally a day dedicated to heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and candle-lit dinners, but to women rights defenders it's much more than that. They chose Valentine's Day to raise awareness about global violence against women as statistics reveal that one in three women will be raped or beaten during her lifetime. On One Billion Rising Day several women's rights groups call on people to dance to show they are against the violence. In Brussels hey will be joined by several MEPs.
Cloud computing poses a larger threat to your privacy than you might think, according to an EP study. Europe marks today annual data protection day, an initiative to raise awareness of how people's personal information is collected and processed and how to best protect your private lives. The EP is currently looking at plans to update current European rules on data protection to bring them in line with the latest technological developments and prevent misuse of private data.
Enough is enough. The brutal rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey on a Delhi bus on 16 December 2012 triggered massive protests in her native India and sent shock waves around the world. In a resolution to be debated and voted on 17 January, MEPs will demand of the Indian government that it adopts and enforces stronger laws to address all forms of violence against women.
Citizens have always been at the heart of the European project and in 2013 they get their own year dedicated to them. The 2013 Year of the Citizens will be an opportunity for people to discover what rights they enjoy under EU legislation. We spoke to EP vice president Georgios Papastamkos, a Christian Democrat MEP from Greece, about what can be done to help citizens and give them a voice.
Eurodac is a database containing fingerprints of asylum seekers and irregular immigrants to help with asylum applications, but should it also be used to investigate terrorism and serious crimes? The European Commission wants to enable EU law enforcement bodies to have access to the database for this reason. However, members of the EP's civil liberties committee argued during a vote on the plan on 17 December that this should only be possible with strict data protection safeguards in place.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2012 goes to Iranians Nasrin Sotoudeh, an imprisoned human rights defender and lawyer, and Jafar Panahi, a film director who with his work called attention to the hardships suffered by Iran's poor. EP president Martin Schulz presented the award to representatives of the laureates in plenary on 12 December.
Two empty chairs to symbolise the two award winners who were unable to attend. Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film director Jafar Panahi won this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for defending human rights in their native Iran. However, they were unable pick up their award in person at the ceremony in the Parliament on 12 December. The two laureates designated five representatives to receive the prize on their behalf.
Harassed, arrested but not forgotten. Film director Jafar Panahi and Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh are paying the price for defending human rights in their native Iran as Mr Sotoudeh is now in prison and Ms Panahi is facing a six-year sentence. Yet, their struggle has not gone unrecognised. This year the European Parliament awarded them the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. As they were unable to pick it up in person, they designated people to represent them during the ceremony on 12 December.
Human rights in Iran are once more in the spotlight not least because of the treatment of 2012 Sakharov Prize laureates Jafar Panahi and Nasrin Sotoudeh, who were both sentenced to jail. Finnish Green MEP Tarja Cronberg, the head of EP's delegation on relations with Iran, chatted with our fans on Facebook on the issue. She believes that the Sakharov prize given to the activists may help to improve the situation in the long run.