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Speech by State Secretary Romana Tomc before the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) in the European Parliament


Madam Chair,

Distinguished Committee Members,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, who is today unable to attend on account of other obligations, I would like to thank you for the invitation to the Committee meeting. The Slovenian EU Council Presidency is about to conclude and, with it, the joint 18-month trio Presidency of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. I am, therefore, happy to have this opportunity to present the achievements of the Slovenian Presidency in the area of gender equality.

In January, we hosted two major events: a ministerial conference and an informal meeting of the ministers responsible for gender equality. The conclusions of the ministerial conference ‘Elimination of Gender Stereotypes: Mission (Im)Possible?' are reflected in the conclusions adopted by the Council at its meeting in June. The conclusions underline that gender stereotypes are one of the most persistent causes of gender inequality, pervading all areas and every stage of life. All relevant stakeholders have to deal with them.

The most significant Presidency event in the area of gender equality was an informal meeting of the ministers responsible for this area. The central theme of the meeting was women's participation in society and strengthening the role and status of women. The ministers addressed three topics. In the light of the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament, they discussed assuring balanced gender representation in political decision-making and strengthening the responsibility of the European Union in achieving this goal. The second topic was devoted to strengthening the role and position of girls/young women, mainly in terms of eliminating sex-segregation in education and achieving the Lisbon objectives. The third topic focused on strengthening the responsibility of the European Union and its Member States with a view to promoting gender equality in development cooperation.

I can proudly say that progress has also been made on the Beijing Platform for Action. The Council adopted new indicators and policy guidelines for monitoring and improving the situation of girl children in European society. We are the first Presidency to date to have provided an overview of the indicators already adopted and, at the June meeting, we reconfirmed our political commitment to further intensifying measures to achieve balanced gender representation in political decision-making.

One of the important objectives of the Slovenian Presidency was to promote gender mainstreaming in all relevant political processes and areas at national, European and international level.

Gender equality in flexicurity matters and enhancing the role of men in the reconciliation of family, professional and personal life was discussed by the ministers responsible for employment and social affairs at their informal meeting. The reconciliation of professional and family life was also the topic of the Presidency conference entitled ‘Jobs for Youth – Prosperity for All'.

We are also proud of the commitment to implementation of the European Pact for Gender Equality and to elimination of the gender gap in employment and in the labour market, strengthened in the Policy and Employment Guidelines in the context of the next cycle of the Lisbon Strategy, which received political agreement at the EPSCO Council meeting in June. Special emphasis has been placed on eliminating the gender pay gap since the current gap points to direct discrimination against women and the existence of structural inequalities on the labour market.

Based on the findings obtained at the workshop on 'Family-Friendly Scientific Careers - towards an Integrated Model', organised as part of an informal meeting of the Scientific and Technical Research Committee (CREST) and a working group of the Research Council, in May 2008, the Competitiveness Council adopted conclusions on family-friendly scientific careers - towards an integrated model.

The Slovenian Presidency played an important and demanding role in the coordination and representation of EU positions at the meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as well as in the preparation and implementation of side events. In cooperation with the European Commission, the Presidency prepared an event on financing the gender equality and the empowerment of women in the light of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the Istanbul process. We also participated in the trio Presidency event under the aegis of Germany, discussing stereotypes and gender roles.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Slovenian Presidency would not have achieved any of the stated without close and very good cooperation between the three Presidencies of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. Our cooperation started before the beginning of the German Presidency when setting joint guidelines and objectives in the gender equality area for the entire 18-month period. We reaffirmed our commitments in two trio Presidency Declarations. The first ‘Towards Gender Equality in the European Union' was signed at an informal ministerial meeting in Germany and the second ‘Towards Gender Equality in the European Union – in relation to the Lisbon Strategy' at an informal ministerial meeting in Portugal.

The trio Presidency countries also undertook to assess and evaluate the results of their joint work at the end of the three Presidencies as well as their contribution to promoting gender equality and implementing the objectives set out in the European Pact for Gender Equality, the Commission Roadmap for Equality between Women and Men and the Lisbon Strategy.

Today we are presenting our 18-month-long work in the area of gender equality. It does not, however, end here. Our activities and results will undoubtedly contribute to raising the political profile of gender equality at European, international and also national level. I am therefore convinced that our activities targeted at overcoming gender inequalities and promoting equal opportunities for women and men in all areas of life will only be further intensified in future and that we are on the right road to gender equality in the European Union.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your constructive cooperation, your visits to Slovenia and your participation at Presidency events.

Thank you!


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Date: 24.06.2008