European Parliament: International Women’s Day celebrated in plenary

March 9, 2021
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Just before the opening of the session on Monday 8 March, the European Parliament marked 2021 International Women’s Day, focussing on women’s empowerment and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern, US Vice President Harris, President Sassoli and President von der Leyen pay tribute to women on the frontline in the COVID-19 crisis.

In his opening speech, EP President David Sassoli stated: ‘‘The pandemic risks wiping out decades of achievements gained by European women’s struggle for the right to work, to share care work, for autonomy, for respect and for the right to make their own choices.’’ Regarding the gender pay gap, he added, ‘‘Women in Europe earn on average 14.1% less than men. This is not acceptable. The Commission’s proposal for binding pay transparency measures will be central to our work.’’ President Sassoli concluded by calling for all member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention, and for the EU to make violence against women a European-wide crime.

The celebration ended with a speech by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in the chamber. ‘‘Too many women in Europe lack the fundamental opportunity to work and earn a living. Today, the employment rate for women is 67%, while that of men is 78%. This is simply not acceptable. Last week, we set a new target for Europe: we must cut the gender employment gap by half, and by the end of this decade, 78% of all Europeans must have a job. It will not be easy but we will do everything in our power to reach this goal’’, she said. ‘‘The Commission required that all member states put women at the centre of their post-COVID-19 recovery plans. It will only be a true recovery if these plans are for all’’, she concluded.


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Press release

Opening statement by David SASSOLI, EP President – video

Statement by Ursula von der LEYEN, President of the European Commission – video

Speech by President von der Leyen at the European Parliament Plenary on the International Women’s Day Celebration – Full text

Countries covered:

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Palestine *
  • Syria *
  • Tunisia