Letter to Juncker on gender action plan II

A group of MEPs called for Commission president Juncker to give the second gender action plan of the EU the importance it deserves.


Dear President Juncker,

As Members of the European Parliament working every day to ensure that we achieve gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment inside and outside Europe, we call upon you to show leadership on this issue and personally commit the European Commission to move from rhetoric to action on gender equality.

We ask you to recognise gender equality as a top priority, by launching the renewed EU action plan on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in development (GAP) not as a weak internal working document, but as an official communication. Strong political accountability policies for the EU, both internally and globally are crucial for the European Union (EU) to maintain any credibility regarding its commitment to lead by example on gender equality – anything less than a full account of how the European Commission seeks to achieve this will be insufficient.

Ahead of your European People’s Party nomination as candidate to the European Commission (EC) presidency, civil society welcomed your assurance that the EU must promote, defend and protect women’s and children’s rights, fight violence against women and girls, and tackle high maternal mortality. Your support for the UN Women “HeForShe” campaign in March 2015 is to be applauded, as was your ability to mobilise the male commissioners to follow suit. We commend your Commission’s commitment to gender equality as a fundamental value of the EU. Furthermore, we praise the instrumental role of the EU and its member states in ensuring that women’s and girls’ rights remain at the core of the new sustainable development framework.

However, the EU institutions’ work on gender equality, in particular the implementation of the current gender action plan has been far from satisfactory. The EU development ministers in May 2015 called for revitalised leadership from the EC and the European External Action Service (EEAS) on gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment, including a robust successor to the current GAP. We wait patiently in the European Parliament for this to happen.

The impact of according the next GAP the status of a communication is clear: it would send a strong political message to all relevant stakeholders, particularly to EU delegations. It would enable EU institutions and member states to meet their commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both internally and externally. A lower-level paper – such as a staff working document – would send an equally clear political signal that the European Commission does not take gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment seriously.

It is time for the EU to put sentiment into action and get serious on gender equality. Strong policy documents – communications – are just the first, vital step in making sure this happens under your presidency. We are counting on you, to make 2015 a turning point in the history of women’s and girls’ rights. It is too important an issue to be sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and “better regulation”.

Brussels, 15 September 2015

Heidi Hautala MEP, gender mainstreaming responsible in the Development Committee (Finland, Greens/EFA)

Linda McAvan MEP, Chair of the Development Committee (UK, S&D)

Ulrike Lunacek (Austria, Greens/EFA, vice president of the EP)

Malin Björk MEP (Sweden, GUE/NGL)

Linnéa Engström MEP (Sweden, Greens/EFA)

Jytte Guteland MEP (Sweden, S&D)

Norbert Neuser (Germany, S&D)

Maria Noichl MEP (Germany, S&D)

Soraya Post MEP (Sweden, S&D)

Elly Schlein MEP (Italy, S&D)

Monika Vana MEP (Austria, Greens/EFA)

Maria Heubuch (Germany, Greens/EFA)

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea (Spain, ALDE)

Arne Lietz (Germany, S&D)

Sylvie Guillaume (France, S&D)

(updated 21.9.2015)