There must be no let-up in the fight for gender equality, and instruments must be created to combat female genital mutilation, within and outside the EU, urged President Schulz in his opening address. He also condemned the Islamist terror group "Ansaru" for killing seven hostages in Nigeria.
"We must not let up in the fight for gender equality" said Mr Schulz, noting that on average, women in the EU are paid 16% less than men for the same work.
Economic crisis hits women harder than men, by putting them out of their jobs and forcing them to take less secure alternative work, he added.
The extent of violence against women is still intolerable, with grave consequences for the victims, for families and society as a whole, he continued, adding that women are still seriously under-represented in leadership positions in politics and business.
Female genital mutilation
Mr Schulz called for "zero tolerance" of female genital mutilation, which he said affects over 100 million women worldwide. "We urgently need to create appropriate instruments to protect especially young girls, whether within or outside the EU", he insisted.
Finally, Mr Schulz condemned the killing of seven hostages from Italy, Greece, the UK and Lebanon by the Islamist terrorist group "Ansaru" in Nigeria at the weekend. Parliament's thoughts and condolences are with the victims' families and friends.
Andreas Pitsillides (EPP, CY) replaced Ioannis Kasoulides (EPP, CY) as of 4 March.