On 8 March 2018, as International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world, the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, which brings together members of parliament from Council of Europe member States, acknowledges the progress that has been achieved towards greater equality between women and men while taking stock of the challenges that lie ahead.
Deeply ingrained discrimination based on a patriarchal mentality, often subtly concealed and aggravated by violence and in particular sexual violence, affects women throughout their lives, limiting their freedom, their chances and the exercise of their rights. Among them, migrant women are particularly affected.
In the economic sphere, the gender pay gap, the glass ceiling and the misconception that women are unsuited for work in certain sectors or professions continue to hold back their careers and opportunities. Many women also shoulder the physical and psychological double burden of household chores and employment, struggling to combine private, family and professional life.
Equal participation and representation of women and men is crucial in every aspect of public and private life, including in politics, in order to redress imbalances and inequalities and change the general mindset which confines women to traditional roles.
Everyone has the responsibility to contribute to the huge leap forward which is necessary to build a society in which men and women enjoy effective equality. It is up to each and every one of us, as social actors and in the different environments in which we operate, to dismantle the stereotypes and prejudice that feed inequality between women and men. No contribution is too small.
As politicians, legislators and members of the Parliamentary Assembly, we should set an example and be at the forefront in promoting an ambitious agenda for women’s empowerment and equal rights and dignity, and consistently act for its implementation.
“I too can make equality happen” should be our personal and public commitment, on 8 March and beyond.