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Cotman: We not only need active women, we also need active men

director of the Office for Equal Opportunities mrs. Tanja Salecl and minister Cotman

At the informal meeting of ministers for gender equality, discussions were held on the participation of women in society, enhancing the role and position of women, the balanced representation of women and men in political decision-making, enhancing the role and position of girls with a view to achieving gender equality, and the importance of gender equality policies in development cooperation. Minister Marjeta Cotman pointed out that one of the key messages was, “We not only need active women, we also need active men.”

Addressing the issue of strengthening the position of girls and women, the ministers discussed the elimination of gender differences in education, whereas in addressing the issue of gender equality policies in development participation, a debate was held on promoting gender equality through policies and programmes and the exercise of human rights to fulfil commitments by international instruments.

Most countries touched upon the issue of support for the achievement of the Lisbon goals concerning employment and elimination of gender differences by addressing the problem of gender-based segregation in education.   Studies have shown that investment in education of girls and women raises all progress indicators and that the education of girls is one of the most efficient ways to promote economic and cultural development. 

Special emphasis was placed on the need for changing school textbooks and curricula. According to EU figures, women are better educated than men and make up almost 60% of university graduates.  Unfortunately, this structure is not reflected in the labour market. On the contrary, in the labour market women are still working in typical female branches and professions, and in comparison to men they occupy lower-skilled jobs.

The second most frequently addressed topic was the balanced representation of women and men in political decision-making. Despite the progress achieved thus far, the participation of women at the political level is increasing at a very slow pace.  According to the latest figures, the average of women in national parliaments of EU Member States amounts to 23 %, whereas their share in the European Parliament is slightly higher, at 33 %. The average proportion of women ministers in national governments amounts to only 22%.

The third discussion topic was the promotion of gender equality through development cooperation in view of strengthening the responsibility of the European Union and the Member States for sustainable improvement of measures to the benefit of women and their human rights. The European Union supports the participation of women in the economy and in political decision-making, and encourages the empowerment of women in preventing conflicts, peace building and peace rebuilding. 

The meeting was attended by the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla, EU and EFTA ministers, ministers of the EU Candidate Countries and representatives of the Secretariat-General of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.


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Date: 01.02.2008