EU Strives to Bring More Women Into Business, Politics

     (CN) – European leaders rolled out a new initiative to get women to participate more in politics and business ahead of this week’s U.N.’s General Assembly meeting.
     Dubbed the “Equal Futures Partnership,” the EU’s multi-pronged effort is aimed at advancing gender equality and empowerment by strengthening political participation at the local level and helping them take an active role in issues involving justice, reconciliation and peace negotiations.
     The plan also combats violence against women, placing a gender advisor in all of its security and defense operations. The EU also wants to put pressure on its allies to combat gender-based violence, which an EU Council statement calls “the most widespread human rights violation of our times.”
     Lawmakers also want to draft legislation requiring public European companies to bring gender equality into the boardroom. The Council noted that a 2011 initiative asking companies to voluntarily increase female presence on their boards to 30 percent by 2015 has only gotten 24 pledges to comply.
     At an event in New York hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday, top European diplomat Catherine Ashton said the plan is not only a domestic priority for the EU-it’s also at the center of Europe’s action and relations with other countries, notably those in political transition.
     “We know that anywhere in the world, where women prosper, societies prosper,” Ashton said. “In the interest of everyone is to include women in every part of society.”

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