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Thursday, 13 March 2008 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation (debate)

  Gay Mitchell (PPE-DE). – Mr President, this is a report on gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing cooperation. Why, then, are the Socialists, Liberals and some others preparing this morning to vote against an amendment which seeks information on discrimination against females and which starts in the womb?

An amendment in my name and that of Mr Deva and Ms Belohorská calls on the Commission to ask all of the Union’s partners around the world, both governments and NGOs, to undertake a permanent gender analysis of all abortions and to regularly report the findings to Parliament. Perhaps Mr Hutchinson might tell us what is so terrible about getting that information? Parliament is, this morning, planning to look the other way by voting down this amendment, yet in some countries a strong preference for sons has led to the elimination of millions of girls through parental sex selection. Baby girls also die through deliberate neglect and starvation. According to the UNFPA, in Asia alone, at least 60 million girls are ‘missing’. In some countries it is reported that sex selection is more common in cities, where technologies such as amniocentesis and ultrasound are readily available and open to misuse. In others it occurs more commonly in rural areas where, according to UNFPA, the preference for sons is strong. Daughters are in some countries seen as an economic liability and, according to UNFPAs, the sex ratio at birth, although it is slightly higher, becomes more accentuated because of this. The shortage of women and girls in some Asian countries has potentially alarming social repercussions, including increased demand for trafficking in women, whether for marriage or for sex work, and the worsening of their status overall. Those are the words of the UNFPA, not mine.

What is Parliament’s position? To look the other way. Throughout history, majorities have got it wrong, for example in Austria and Germany in the 1930s. How could a supposedly reflective body like the European Parliament do such an injustice as to vote down that amendment? We are simply seeking information ...

(The President cut off the speaker.)

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