Marc Tarabella: “Men and women are not and never will be the same, but they should have the same rights” 

Marc Tarabella  

Every year Parliament’s women’s rights committee prepares a report to assess the progress made in equality between women and men. On 9 March, MEPs will discuss the report about the progress made in 2013 in plenary and vote on it the following day. Belgian S&D member Marc Tarabella, who wrote the report, talked to us about the achievements, the remaining challenges and the general mind-set in the EU. Follow the debate and vote live on our website.

What is the situation in terms of equality in the EU today? You wrote the report on gender equality in 2009: what has changed since then?

There has been progress, but it is too slow. If we continue like this, we will not eliminate the gender pay gap before 2084. Since my last report five years ago, the employment rate amongst women in Europe has grown from 60% to 63%, which is not enough. We also have to pay more attention to the quality of jobs; more and more women are in insecure or part-time jobs and on temporary contracts.

What are the main issues that need to be addressed?

The elimination of violence against women should be a priority. We should have a year dedicated to the fight against violence. It would be symbolic, but it is important to talk about it because in many countries it is still taboo.

The career glass ceiling is still a reality, especially when we talk about quotas for women in listed companies. We can talk about it for 30 years, but to see real change we need binding measures. We also have to fight stereotypes from a very early age and to ratify the Istanbul convention on violence against women.

Regarding sexual and reproductive rights,  this report is not for or against abortion. It is about equality and the right to decide, which is a fundamental right.

You are one of the few men on the women's rights committee. What role can men play in improving gender equality and are they ready to accept changes?

There are not enough men who are ready to work on this problem. There are a lot of stereotypes about men who fight for gender equality. We need to change mentalities. I think that gender equality is the equality of rights and accessibility. Men and women are not and never will be the same, but they should have the same rights.

This interview was first published on 20 January 2015 after the report was adopted by the women’s rights committee.

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