European Commission, what’s the plan to advance girls’ rights?
In the run up to the hearings of the new #VdLCommission, we are eager to understand what the next European Commissioners will be up to in the upcoming five years. The first two weeks of October the European Parliament will have the chance to hear them out. But we can’t help but wonder, will the European Parliament voice the concern that matter to girls.
Yes, to better grasp what’s the plan to advance girls’ rights worldwide, we want to know what our future European Commissioners have to say about the renewal of the Gender Action Plan? Girls have different needs and challenges depending on their age. Then, in relation to crisis management (or previously known as humanitarian aid and civil protection), are they planning to pay attention to the specific needs of girls in conflict settings which differ from either boys or adults? And what about involving girls and young women’s voices in the EU decision making processes beyond having a full 50/50 gender equal team of Commissioners?! We believe their voices need to be heard, especially when it comes down to those policies that affect them directly. We’ll be on the tip of our seats the first week of October.
EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS
The mission letter of Ms. Von der Leyen to the designate Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen calls for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to continue to be a top priority in the EU’s international cooperation and development policies.
The Gender Action Plan II is the most relevant tool to ensure this, as it aims to transform the lives of girls and women through EU external relations. Social norms and discriminatory laws, intersectionality and structural inequalities are recognised as significant factors with impact on the economic, social and political lives of girls and women and their participation. The GAP II further states that increasing girls’ and women’s status within society requires enhancing their agency in all areas.
- What steps will the Commissioner for International Partnerships will take to ensure that the new GAP retains this gender transformative vision and includes objectives and indicators specifically supporting girls’ rights under each pillar?
EUROPEAN CONSENSUS ON DEVELOPMENT
The European Consensus on Development represents the shared agenda and priorities for the EU’s and its member states’ cooperation with partner countries worldwide. It recognises young people as central actors of sustainable development, and youth unemployment as a key issue for the achievement of the SDGs. Today, the global youth unemployment rate is three times higher than the figure for adults. The EU and Member States have committed to focus on concrete actions to meet the specific needs of youth, by increasing quality employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, supported by effective policies in education, vocational training, skills development and access to digital technology.
- What are the concrete actions you will undertake to put the European Consensus on Development’ commitments to young people concerning unemployment and access to decent jobs into practice? Would you consider adopting a policy on Youth Economic Empowerment by taking into account that young women struggle to combine paid work with care responsibilities and thus require tailored provisions?
EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR CRISIS MANAGEMENT
GIRLS IN CRISES
Crises in the world and its impacts on populations are more severe. More than 500 million adolescent girls are living in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crisis. By living in these environments, girls face multiple challenges, including limited access to education, increased domestic work and the risk of gender-based violence and exploitation.
- What will you do to respond to the specific needs of adolescent girls in crises and to address negative gender norms and gender inequality that have a great impact on their opportunities?
EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES
Education in Emergencies has been a key priority for the EU in the last years. Research has shown that girls face unique barriers to quality education because they are young and female. These barriers are exacerbated in ongoing crisis or conflict situations, and girls who are out of school face a heightened risk of trafficking, early and forced marriage, early pregnancy, and gender-based violence.
- What will you do to ensure that every girl has access to a safe and quality education in emergency settings?
We are witnessing the increasing need to work with a more integrated approach to address challenging situations around the globe. More coordination and joint work between humanitarian, development and peace building actors is needed. The EU has advanced on this thinking in the last years. However, there is still room for improvement if the EU wants to be more strategic and assertive in its external actions.
- What steps will you take to further operationalise the triple nexus between development, humanitarian and peace-building actions in a strategic way while the needs of girls and young women are not neglected in displacement and emergency settings?
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNION FOR FOREIGN POLICY AND SECURITY POLICY AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Cooperating and working with partners is an integral part of the High Representative’s mission. This means involving the ones who are best positioned to drive positive and long-lasting change. The Youth, Peace and Security Agenda marked an important achievement in defining young people as active actors of change, by recognizing young people’s role in preventing conflict, countering extremism and building peace. Still they are dramatically under-represented in political decision-making. As numbers show, not even 2 percent of the world’s parliamentarians are aged under 30 years, whilst young women count among the least adequately represented in decision-making, including peace processes.
- What steps will you take to implement the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda and to ensure in particular that girls and young women are involved in decision-making on peace processes and are represented in political leadership dealing with post-conflict reconstruction and recovery?
MAINSTREAMING GENDER IN THE EU’S EXTERNAL ACTION
GENDER AND AGE-TRANSFORMATIVE LANGUAGE
To adopt effective and high quality policies and programmes that support girls and young women, it is essential to take into account both gender and age. This means clearly identifying and answering to the needs of girls and young women and addressing the barriers and challenges they face at every stage of their life.
- How can you ensure a gender and age transformative language in all policies, in order for the different needs of girls to get addressed throughout their life course from childhood to early adulthood, and taking into account all their diversity?
The European Consensus on Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize young people as active agents of change. Still numbers show that young people, especially girls and young women, do not have much say in decision-making, especially through formal institutions. Globally, whilst 60 percent across the youngest parliamentarians are males, only 40 percent are female.
- What steps will you take to ensure that girls and young women in the global south are politically empowered and have a voice in EU decision-making, including through mechanisms for youth engagement at EU Delegations level?