The first note to make on MEU Vienna 2015 is how refreshing it is to see that, for once, the door on politics is fully open to women. It’s been no secret that throughout the ages, there has been a gaping hole between how men and women are both treated when it comes to business, politics and pretty much any work with a decision-making position across Europe and the world.
Ok, MEU is just a simulation event on EU legislation for young people but it leads in making the happening inequalities more visible and is more influential in promoting the gender equality standards which the Council of Europe (COE) implement.
Despite the fact that woman nowadays are more economically and socially stable, are in a greater position to lead a political landscape and are more self-sufficient and independent than ever, women are still substantially underrepresented when it comes to those kind of jobs.
The COE Gender Equality strategy 2014-2017 focuses on the challenges and lack of opportunities faced in business leadership for women. According to their website and annual reports, the aim is to create a high enough standard of equality and balance both within the “Council of Europe and in its member States”.
By 2017, the council expect there to be a huge shift in the percentage of women on the boards of the EU’s largest publically recognised companies. As it stands only 20.2% of women are working in the top companies which are registered in the EU.
Similarly, in politics, 28% of women account for the members of the “single or lower houses of parliaments in the EU countries” according to the European Commission (EC).
An annual report conducted by COE recently indicated that there has been growing improvements in implementing gender balance in businesses but the reality is, it isn’t yet as visible as it needs to be, or should be.
The exciting thing about the MEU is that it complements the Gender Equality Strategy and works to combat stereotypes and sexism.
Over the course of the four days, all EU participants are sure to be guaranteed equal access and balanced participation between young women and men in political and public decision making. This will achieve the kind of gender mainstreaming the EU needs and is striving for.
It will also undoubtedly encourage young people to not only get involved in politics and develop political awareness, but for women not to feel slanted by old fashioned and outdated stereotypes, which combined is a priority of MEU and a fantastic opportunity for aspiring young women.
by Tara McLeodWilliams