International Women’s Day: more than just words?

*Update 24.07.2023 evidence shows UK fathers being denied the leave and flexibility ostensibly available to them.* *Update 07.03.2023 Women were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, slowing and even reversing  gains, showing just how vulnerable any gains can be. Generation 2004 continues to push for international women’s day (IWD) to be about action, evaluation and noting what still needs to be done.  It’s something to be done year round. What have we done in the last year?

Women are front and centre at Generation 2004:

We have updated the links in the article below and republish it today.*


The original article: Generation 2004 marks International Women’s Day (IWD) with a call to make equality about more than just words. We call on everyone to take steps to help IWD accomplish its ongoing mission:

‘to help forge a gender equal world. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality’.

We thank everyone with whom we work and with whom we pursue our shared goals and make special mention today of the women, whether they are members, newsletter readers, members of the steering committee, seconded team members, board members or our colleagues across the services! We do not call you heroes: we want more than thanks or praise, we want everyone to look at every declaration of a push for equality and see whether the actions match the words.  We cannot pay our bills with applause![1]

‘Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.’ (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

Look at the disproportionate burden to women around the world as all countries have experienced our common plight:  COVID-19, which is still very much in our daily lives. In spite of this, the 2021 report on gender equality in the EU confirmed the 2020 UN findings, stating that ‘[..] the pandemic hit women particularly hard [..]’ and we saw that in general national COVID decision-making teams did not include women [2]. Even within the EU institutions ‘gender balance within EU services, especially for management posts and career progress, remains a challenge’. This, in spite of President von der Leyen’s 2019 unconditional political commitment that ‘by the end of our mandate, we will have gender equality at all levels of management – for the first time. This will change the face of the Commission’. (Plenary 27 November 2019). What will it take for the change to happen? Is the stereotype of managers as men and secretaries as women never to go away? Is this more than unconscious bias?[2]

‘Gender segregation is a deeply entrenched feature of education systems and occupations across the EU. It refers to the concentration of one gender in certain fields of education or occupations (horizontal segregation) or the concentration of one gender in certain grades, levels of responsibility or positions (vertical segregation). Gender segregation narrows life choices, education and employment options, leads to unequal pay, further reinforces gender stereotypes and limits access to certain jobs while also perpetuating unequal gender power relations in the public and private spheres.’ (European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), 2018, Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States)

Generation 2004 is convinced that gender equality should be a reality at all levels, not only in management. On this very significant date – 8 March 2022 – we presented a qualified and experienced woman as a candidate to the presidency of the newly elected Brussels Local Staff Committee. Unfortunately, in spite of Generation 2004 being by far the single-most-voted staff association, all the other trade unions and staff associations (OSPs) stood together to elect the 4th male president in a row.

At Generation 2004 we continue our campaign against injustice and inequality. We are committed to pursuing gender equality and to tackling issues disproportionately affecting women: this is not a once-yearly International-Women’s-Day-email activity.  When anyone is victim of discrimination we will work to ensure that colleagues’ welfare, work-life balance and career development, are respected and that these matters are prioritised.

We highlight the contribution of women in each and every part of Generation 2004 and the EU institutions, in particular women in locations where there is hardship and insecurity, whatever the cause: war, civil war, drug war, terrorist insurgency. This is particularly true at the moment in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Yemen, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar/Burma, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania and Tunisia, to name but a few.

We are in contact on a daily basis with colleagues from all categories of staff and  would like to express our understanding and sincere appreciation to the crucial role of women during the difficult testing time in these and many other countries.

Generation 2004 upholds the principle of gender equality and vows conviction and strong position in empowering all women and girls and their rights. We have committed to gender mainstream our work, including when deciding the composition of our internal structures such as compiling lists of staff-representative candidates for all locations to ensure women are equally represented.  We support women colleagues to be head of election ballot lists (see Brussels, Outside the Union (CLP-HU)) or Ispra/Seville), members of the board, members of the steering committee or Central Staff Committee (CSC/CCP) vice presidents.

Despite the enormous potential and the huge achievements of women everywhere in our institutions and in the world, today’s Brussels vote makes it clearer than ever that women have still a long way to go. Generation 2004 calls on all forward-looking people – men and women – to stand united and to speak up.

Once again. Generation 2004 strongly support equality, fairness, and equal opportunities for all.

Happy Women’s day!

[1] Here brands Tweeting IWD messages were met with statistics on their gender pay gap: ‘Genius’ Twitter ‘bot’ reveals gender pay gaps of brands celebrating International Women’s Day

[2] Generation2004 also recalls the #NOWOMENNOEUDIPLOMACY message of SG Sannino in June 2021: we eagerly await the corresponding action.

[3] Women outnumber men at the Commission in every function group and category EXCEPT Administrator (October 2021 Statistical bulletin) we would like to see a much more even distribution. Within the AD function group men disproportionately occupy AD9-16 posts. Women outnumber men in ‘junior’ grades AD5-AD8 (European Court of Auditors, 2019, Special report no 15/2019: Implementation of the 2014 staff reform package at the Commission – Big savings but not without consequences for staff, Figure 10)

For an explanation of each abbreviation/staff grouping here please consult Annex III (p.50) of ECA Special report no 15/2019.

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