It is important during the current economic crisis that we do not forget our other obligations. Equality is not only good in itself, it also makes economic sense. Missing out on talent because people under achieve due to discrimination is not the best way to run a country.
The incoming Cyprus presidency of the EU is, I am pleased to say, taking an active role on diversity, including matters concerning women.
Addressing the European Parliament yesterday morning Cypriot President Demetris Christofias spoke of Cyprus’ programme for the forthcoming six months in the rotating hot seat.
The programme in its entirety can be accessed here.
Combating violence against women will be one of Cyprus’s priorities with two separate conferences planned. There will be a general conference from 8 – 9 November in the Filoxenia Conference Centre,Nicosia,Cyprus, entitled European conference on violence against women.
The conference aims at the review of progress in EU and the exchange of good practices between the member states in this area. Representatives of all member states of the EU, including NGO’s and high-ranking officials of the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament and International Organisations will participate in this conference.
There will also be a conference from 10 – 12 July at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, when experts from law enforcement agencies of EU Member States as well as academic experts will share knowledge, experiences and good practices in overcoming attrition in domestic violence cases. The aim will be to draft an EU police handbook of good practice on the subject, to be submitted for approval and distribution to the law enforcement agencies across the EU.
In addition to violence against women, the Cyprus presidency will do work on the gap between the earnings of women and men, an important issue in the current economic circumstances.
The gender pay gap will be the subject of a tripartite conference in Limassol on 29-30 October. Government officials and representatives from employers’ and workers’ organisations from the Member States of the European Union will have the opportunity to discuss remaining challenges and identify best practices in the area. One of the aims of the conference is to highlight practices and measures which enterprises may implement in order to eliminate the gender pay gap and promote the principle of equal pay between men and women.
The Cyprus presidency is also taking up human trafficking, an issue close to my heart.
Cyprus attaches great importance in the fight against trafficking in human beings which remains a great challenge for the Member States and the EU. The Presidency will organise a Conference in Brussels, on the 6th European Anti-Trafficking Day (18th October 2012) in order to further promote coordination and collaboration amongst the Member States and the EU Institutions and to further support a comprehensive EU response against trafficking in human beings.
Last but by no means least is the he Conference of Women’s Entrepreneurship, crucially important for the European economy. This event is held annually during the second half of the year and is co-organized by the European Commission and the presiding country. The purpose of the Conference is networking among women entrepreneurs who have joined the two European networks of ambassadors and mentors, and exchange of views, experiences and expertise. During the conference participants have the opportunity to learn about the process of mentoring as a tool for enhancing women’s entrepreneurship, and to create opportunities for the development of new businesses by women across Europe. This year the conference will be the main activity of the European SME Week and for this reason will be held in Brussels on 17 October.