EU Policy toward South Mediterranean Must Strive to Empower the Women

Heidi Hautala together with several women Members of European Parliament urged High Representative Ashton to ensure that gender aspects are fully taken into account when reviewing the EU’s policy toward the South Mediterranean.[:] 

Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland
Vice-President/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Rue de la Loi 200
1049 Bruxelles


Brussels, 1 March 2011


Dear High Representative,

In light of the developments in the Southern Mediterranean, you have begun to review the European Union’s policy towards this region and in particular the allocation of EU funds. The aim of this review is of course to ensure that EU action effectively supports the democratic transformation processes in the Arab world. Women have already been playing and must increasingly play an important role in this transformation and the larger development of the region. It is therefore imperative that gender aspects are fully taken into account when reviewing the EU’s policy toward the South Mediterranean. We appreciate it that you are aware of this necessity and encourage you to take, in particular, three steps to effectively putting your general commitment into practice:

First, when reviewing the allocation and uses of EU funds, their impact on women and men should be assessed and it should be ensured that they benefit equally both genders (gender budgeting).

Second, the European Commission and the External Action Service should ensure that the participants of EU-funded measures, such as training programmes or workshops, are equally men and women.

Third, when EU delegations travel to the region, they should ensure that their choice of interlocutors includes a sufficient number of women – not only when it comes to discussing gender issues, but across the board.

We would appreciate it if these concrete steps were reflected in the review you are currently carrying our and remain at your and your services’ disposal to discuss these issues further.

Yours sincerely,

Franziska Brantner
Veronique de Keyser
Ana Maria Gomes
Heidi Hautala
Barbara Lochbihler
Ulrike Lunacek
Annemie Neyts-Uytterbroeck
Eva-Britt Svensson