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Spain's drive for Europe-wide gender equality, interview with Brigitte Grésy

Spain's drive for Europe-wide gender equality, interview with Brigitte Grésy
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Audrey Tilve, euronews: “Brigitte Grésy, France’s general inspector for social affairs, you also represent France in the European Institute for equality between men and women. Will Spain’s six-month EU presidency be enough time to make progress with a cause as labour-intensive as gender parity?”

Brigitte Grésy, European Institute for Gender Equality: “While it is a six-month presidency, we should bear in mind that the rotating presidencies work more and more with the ones that come afterwards. So, Spain will work closely with both Belgium and Hungary. Therefore, the big efforts Spain makes under its programme — jobs on the one hand and domestic violence on the other — will be taken up in part by the presidencies which follow.”

euronews: “The figures remain striking: more than a 17% gap between men and women’s salaries; only 11% women on the boards of directors of Europe’s biggest companies… Must a balance be found at any price, and if so, how?”

Grésy: “Professional equality in broad terms is part of what Spain intends to anchor very strongly in a new growth strategy for employment.
“We are going to have the follow-up to the Lisbon strategy which ends in 2010 with a 60% requirement for women’s employment, which is more or less achieved.
“Spain is going to commit to a new jobs and growth strategy in 2010-2020 with a very strong desire to see the member states commit to the guidelines and indicators to follow.
“And then there are boards of directors. There, I think member states have to legislate. We know that Spain has been a key driving force on this question, since in 2007 it adopted a law requiring 40% of boards be women, by 2015. It came after Norway, which had made that law in 2003. We, France, in the European Union, are third, with a law proposal on the table. Therefore, there is a kind of awakening that private shareholder companies and public companies will be able to integrate more women into boards of directors.”

euronews: “The other front Spain wants to fight on at a European scale is violence against women. It sees an observatory being created, with a single help number for victims to call, maybe even a Europe-wide protection warrant. Do you believe that would be effective?”

Grésy: “I believe it’s in Europe’s own interest to work together, to draw greater benefit from learning curves. This would let those in Europe making the most progress against violence — and I’m thinking of Spain — help Europe as a whole. Spain, with its law covering violence, has looked at the various related subjects, including getting women back into professional life after acts of violence have been committed. The best pupils can help the others.”