What About That Feminist Europe?

20 May 2019

In less than a week the European citizens will have casted their vote and chosen the new direction of the European Union. Different debates have shown which way the common candidates want the EU to go and what was notable when they so gently crossed swords, is that almost all of them seemed rather serious about realising gender equality, one way or another. Tackling the gender pay gap or fighting gender-based violence slipped into the different talks and manifestos. Sadly enough it usually stayed with a summary of quick fixes.

I strongly believe, as do many others, that the feminist way is the only way for the EU to go, there is no doubt about that. But that –feminist- Europe has to go way beyond isolated policies or propositions. It does not stop where manifestos end. The newly elected Members of the European Parliament have to understand that achieving gender equality is not only about ticking boxes. Closing the gender pay gap alone, although very important, will not make women equal to men.

The difference in wage does not suddenly appear when young women enter the labour market, inequalities originates even before girls are born. 

Years of feminist activism and struggle show that these inequalities go beyond the obvious, they have underlying root causes. The difference in wage does not suddenly appear when young women enter the labour market, inequalities originates even before girls are born. We need to acknowledge how gender norms put girls and women throughout their entire life at the disadvantage of boys and men.

What Europe truly needs is a fundamental mind shift towards a gender transformative approach which in action means to gender proof all of its policies. We have to create an enabling environment that supports children and youth towards true gender equality not only by addressing unequal outcomes but by calling out the systemic barriers creating these inequalities.

It is the job of all Members of Parliament to set an example, not only internally but also outside of its borders. It is also the job of the European Council and the European Commission not to shy away from setting a strong EU vision for gender equality in the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, both in internal and external priorities. Building on its own Gender Action Plan II, the Consensus for Development, the Istanbul Convention and its international commitments to the Agenda 2030 and CEDAW. There are more than enough documents and conventions to be inspired to make a feminist Europe become reality.

A world where the young voices that I have been hearing in the streets, will be heard where the decisions are made 

Imagine that feminist Europe, the EU as a global trendsetter, where it will be about ensuring equal outcomes for girls and boys all over the world. The future generations need to be granted these possibilities from the get-go, so that they will build on your legacy and sustainably involve all voices, in all its diversity, to shape their realities together.

Contributing to a world where the young voices that I have been hearing in the streets, will be at the heart where the decisions are made. This would lead to a world where #GirlsGetEqual and where they can design the world they want to live in!

Therefore, a feminist Europe needs feminists everywhere. My message to those who call themselves feminists in the EU institutions is: make sure you champion girls’ and women’s rights always and everywhere. So about that Feminist Europe. I am ready and so are the millions of girls, boys, youth, women and men we work with all over the world!

Graphic explaining equality, equity and the removal of systemic barrierrs.
  • Face, Person, Human
    Serap Altinisik

    Plan International EU Office Head of Office | EU Representative, Plan International EU

Girls Get Equal, Activism, girls’ leadership

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