Tomorrow, Tuesday, 11 March 2014, the European Parliament will vote on the “own-initiative” Report on equality between women and men in the European Union - 2012. Along the same lines of the Lunacek and Estrela Reports, this is yet another politically-motivated, non-legislative resolution that MEPs are once again called upon to vote for.

Prepared by Mrs. Inês Cristina Zuber — of the Portuguese Communist Party — for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, this highly symbolic report is full of presumptuous, overreaching, and misleading assumptions about the European Union’s role in achieving equal opportunities for women and men. The alternative motion tabled by the centre-right EPP is no improvement, because equally unbalanced. Both should be rejected.

Short analysis of the report, recommendation for action and sample letter

While the European Parliament should support the fundamental principle of equal opportunities for men and women, the Zuber Report goes far beyond supporting that principle. Driven by a very narrow view of women’s equality — which not only expects the same opportunities but the same equal representation in the labour market and in politics— it contains dangerous and inaccurate claims. It assumes that all European women would be best served by working outside the home and delegating child-rearing to childcare facilities — and mistakenly assumes that the only reason a woman would “work shorter hours in order to devote themselves to their child(ren)” is because “they can find no accessible care facilities” (paragraph 44). Thus, instead of recognizing the individual choices of women and families, the Report’s supporters assume they know what’s best for them.

The Zuber Report promotes ‘genderism’, supports the “right to” abortion, although abortion is not an EU competence, and recognition of gay marriage, although family and marriage is the exclusive competence of Member States (paragraphs 42 & Ap). It demands childhood “gender training” (including a complete elimination of any depiction of women as care-givers and men as bread-winners) in public schools and the use of “media regulators” to police the “place accorded — in both quantitative and qualitative terms — to women … in order to avoid conveying gender stereotypes” (paragraphs 57 & 58).

Further, it goes beyond encouraging the increased representation of women at the highest levels of the public and private spheres, and recommends the imposition of legislative electoral gender quotas (so-called “parity democracy”), and “calls on … the Commission and the Member States to take measures to promote a better gender balance in management positions in companies” and to support a “directive aimed at boosting women’s representation on non-executive boards of listed companies by laying down a 40% minimum target for women, to be met by 2020” (paragraphs 59-64).

The view that women’s equality is only expressed when they are fully integrated into the labour market and are full-fledged taxpayers is presumptuous, reductive, and an assault to the dignity and worth of women and their personal life choices. The Report also erodes the principles of subsidiarity, promoting an imposed “one size fits all” vision of the role of women in society. It simply goes too far in its attempts to control the behaviour and personal choices of European citizens, makes overreaching claims about non-existent rights, and recommends measures that represent unacceptable social engineering which would interfere in all facets of society.

Women in Europe do not need this Report — and MEPs who support the principle of equal opportunities do not need this Report to demonstrate that commitment. Citizens want equal opportunities and neutrality of the EU — not paternalism — with regards to their personal lifestyle choices.

The EPP group happily agrees with the Communists

Sadly, the centre-right EPP group missed the opportunity to propose a real alternative view, one that would have respected women in their diversity. While the EPP proposed an alternative resolution, it completely surrendered to the same logic and narrow view of the woman held by the “Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left” of which Mrs. Zuber is a member, in clear contradiction with their own principles. The alternative motion should therefore be similarly rejected, as it does no more than remove some of the more outrageous language from the original text. Nothing in the alternative resolution distinguishes it from any other communist or liberal proposal: it endorses a “gender agenda” in public policies and education, denigrates the value of the natural family and family life, and encourages gender-based quota systems in private enterprises and in politics.

Instead of highlighting the importance of respecting individual choices and merits — and upholding the fundamental principle of equal opportunities between men and women — the EPP’s alternative resolution shows a surprising degree of confusion on the centre-right with regards to the fundamental values of society: personal freedom, family life, individual merit, and ability.

 As all political parties prepare for the European elections, this is a particularly good time to ask some fundamental questions about what candidates stand for. Do they stand for a one-sided and unbalanced image of women, and do they see the European Union’s role as imposing such a view on women in the EU? Or do they believe that women should be able to make their own life choices with regard to their role in society and their raising of a family without any EU interference?

Recommendations for action:

Please find here the email addresses of ALL MEPs. And here the link to search for MEPs per name, country, political group.

Write to your MEP with the following message:

  • MEPs should vote against the EPP’s amendment 1 (motion for an alternative resolution), and
  • MEPs should vote against the Zuber Report (Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality)

Sample letter

Dear MEP,

The draft resolution “On equality between women and men in the European Union —2012”, proposed by member Inês Cristina Zuber (Portuguese Communist Party) in the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, is scheduled for a vote of the European Parliament on 11 March.

I urge you to reject both this text, as well as the alternative motion (amendment 1 tabled by the EPP).

Both motions, the Zuber report and the alternative EPP-resolution, should be rejected because they promote:

  • The view that women’s equality is only realized when they are fully integrated into the labour market and are full-fledged taxpayers. This a presumptuous, reductive, and an assault on the dignity and worth of women, and their personal life choices.
  • The implementation of unconditional factual political and economic parity for men and women (contrary to equal opportunities) at the expense of the principle of subsidiarity, including gender quotas in private enterprises and in public life under the new concept of “parity democracy”.
  • Mandatory “gender training” for children in schools, representing a one-sided view of women and families, an issue which is of growing concern to European citizens, particularly parents.
  • The standardization of European law on the recognition of partnerships and marriages between persons of the same sex, which thus attacks the principle of subsidiarity and the fundamental role of natural family.

While there is no doubt that you support the fundamental principle of equal opportunities for men and for women based on their individual merits and capabilities, I hope you will agree that the European Parliament should not interfere in society with this sort of unbalanced, overreaching social paternalism.

I ask you to defend women’s dignity and their personal lifestyle choices, and to:

  • Vote against the EPP’s amendment 1 (motion for an alternative resolution), and
  • Vote against the Zuber Report (Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality)