Progressives call for strong European democracies with feminist values at heart

28/06/2021

PES Women President Zita Gurmai and Lewica MP Katarzyna Kotula speaking at the hybrid #MakeHerCount for Democracy event

PES Women President Zita Gurmai and Lewica MP Katarzyna Kotula speaking at the hybrid #MakeHerCount for Democracy event

In the context of the high-level conference With Courage. For Europe. organised by the Party of European Socialist, the PES Presidency adopted a declaration underlining the importance of gender equality for European democracy.

The declaration, presented by PES Women, states that: “the empowerment of women and the establishment of gender equality are crucial to our democracies. Gender equality and women’s rights are indicators of how healthy and resilient our democracies are.”

The PES Presidency expressed its concern at the growing anti-democratic, anti-rights and anti-feminist movements and governments within and beyond Europe, which are threatening the advancement of gender equality and LGBTI rights. Rule of law, democracy and gender equality are European values that must be protected. The declaration lists fourteen concrete points of action, from promoting gender mainstreaming to implementing the Istanbul Convention and the Article 7 procedure in cases of violations of EU values.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Equality for women is not negotiable. Gender equality and women’s rights are indicators of how healthy and resilient our democracies are, they are cornerstones of our shared European values. The PES is proud to fight for a truly inclusive, representative, legitimate and resilient democracy where women play a full and active role.”

The PES Presidency declaration was accompanied by a side-event hosted by PES Women and ASF, the women’s organisation of the German SPD. Under the slogan #MakeHerCount for Democracy, experts and progressive leaders, including Commissioner Helena Dalli and S&D Group President Iratxe Garcia Perez discussed the social democratic agenda for social justice, women’s rights and minority rights across Europe in the face of far-right threats to democracy and gender equality.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“By putting together this exchange, we want to reiterate our political family’s very firm position in favour of European democracy and gender equality as mutually dependent concepts. Significant achievements have been made over the past decades when it comes to women’s and LGBTI rights, but progress must not be taken for granted. From restrictions on reproductive rights in Poland to Hungary’s oppressive laws against the LGBTI community and Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, Europe and the world are experiencing a conservative backlash against feminism and gender equality, which risks eroding democracy and human rights.

“We want to raise awareness about the interdependence between democracy and gender equality as core EU values and debunk the hidden agenda of anti-gender politics. As social democrats, as feminists and Europeans, we want to make women count for democracy and show that social democracy is the answer for social justice, women’s and minority rights across Europe. Our debate and the joint Declaration give a very strong signal from our political family: protecting women’s rights is protecting democracy.”

The With Courage. For Europe. conference can be watched in full online.