New Handbook launched to combat Gender Stereotypes in the Acting World

Labour Party

The International Federation of Actors (FIA) has produced a handbook ‘Good Practices to Combat Gender Stereotypes and Promote Equal Opportunities in Film, Television and Theatre in Europe’.

This excellent handbook resulted from a FIA organised conference which  looked at practices to combat gender stereotypes and promote equal opportunities in film, television and theatre in Europe. The conference, held in May and hosted by myself, was supported by my European Parliament colleagues Eva-Britt Svensson, Marie-Christine Vergiat and Cecilia Wikström, from the Women’s Rights Committee, Culture Committee, and Employment Committee respectively.

The aim of the handbook is to improve the gender policy of performers’ trade unions, women’s councils, national Ministries, employers in the entertainment sector, specialised agencies and committed practitioners by providing practical examples about how they can reverse the stereotyping trend frequently seen in the acting world.

The handbook develops a whole range of actions inspired by the desire to promote gender equality. Multiple approaches towards change are explored, such as promoting equality in management, professional training, as well as promoting ideas to challenge gender representation on-screen and on stage, monitoring techniques, and so on.

This is a fantastic handbook, and the result of a great deal of hard work on the part of the FIA. You can see it online here.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Labour Party

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It’s a day when governments, international organisations and NGOs organise activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women. The 25th November was selected in order to commemorate the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters on the orders of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabal sisters were political activists in the Dominican Republic.

Yesterday, an event was held in Strasbourg called ‘Break the silence on domestic violence’. This was hosted by my Socialist colleague Antigoni Papadopoulou. Among the speakers were Eva-Britt Svensson, who chairs Women’s Rights Committee in the European Parliament, and committee members Edit Bauer MEP and Antonyia Parvanova MEP. Domestic violence is a key issue for the EU, though it is just one of several forms of violence facing women today.

In Europe one in four women is a victim of violence, which includes domestic abuse, rape, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, prostitution, and female genital mutilation. In the UK alone, two women die each week at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. The Council of Europe estimates that the total annual cost of violence against women in Council of Europe Member States could be as high as €34 billion.

For the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, the fight against violence remains a fundamental area of concern. Committee Chairperson, Eva-Britt Svensson, has just finished putting together a draft report outlining a new EU policy framework against violence against women. In her report she argues the need for strong legal protection for victims, and calls on the legal authorities of EU Member States to make the prosecution of violence in close relationships a priority. She also highlights the importance of providing victims with legal assistance, for governments to implement effective criminal investigation procedures, and for states to set up an emergency-based number for victims of violence. Her report also outlines that more research desperately needs to be carried out to determine the extent of gender-based violence in Europe.

I will be blogging more in the coming months on the progress in the Women’s Committee of Eva-Britt Svensson’s report.

One World Action has put together a petition urging the UK Government to make sure the Champion for ending International Violence Against Women has the tools she needs to become a true champion and protect the world’s women from violence. I have signed it and would ask you to support it. You can sign it by clicking here

Women in Power: The European United Left – Nordic Green Left

Labour Party

For those of you who visit my website regularly, you will have noticed a recent addition to the site: Women in Power. This is a collection of profiles of women members of the European Parliament, and it follows many months of hard work by me and my Brussels staff.

Having previously brought you a set of profiles from the members of the Socialists and Democrats, the group in the Parliament to which I belong, I am now pleased to unveil the ten female members of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (EUL/NGL). Though small in number, they have between them a remarkable array of qualifications and skills.

One individual with who I have spent a great deal of time, and with who I have been particularly impressed, is Eva-Britt Svensson. She chairs the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, and always shows a great deal of enthusiasm and understanding when she talks about women’s issues. Her background is in the political field, and she has been both a member of the County Council for the Left Party and Political Secretary of the Left Party during her career.

Another EUL/NGL member who shares some of my interests within the Parliament is Marie-Christine Vergiat. Marie-Christine sits alongside me on the Committee on Culture and Education. She, like Eva-Britta, has a political background, primarily within the French Socialist Party. She has been a forceful campaigner for the party, and has worked alongside the likes of Martine Aubry, First Secretary of the Socialists, and François Mitterrand, who was President of France until 1995.

As I am sure you will agree, the women members of the EUL/NGL group are an impressive bunch. Despite being small in number, they continue to have a powerful role within the European Parliament.


Euro Election, europe, european parliament, Labour Party, President

We spent this morning casting our votes for the President of the European Parliament, an important position, the holder of which chairs the meetings of the European Parliament and is often seen as the public face of the European Parliament to the outside world.  Many are those who aspire to its lofty height, but as ever few are chosen.  Thise who do  arrive usually get there by a mixture of ambition and stealth and almost always as a result of deals made in backrooms between the political groups.

This time the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) has carved the position up with the European People’s Party (EPP) the centre-right group, still the largest group in the Parliament even though the Tories have left to set up on their own with a few cronies.  The deal was that the EPP have the President for the first half of the parliamentary term and the socialists/democrats  for the second two and a half years.  So it’s now the turn of the EPP until the end of December 2011.

This is all very well except that the President of the Parliament is elected by MEPs by secret ballot – the very process we have been taking part in today.  There were, in fact, two candidates, which I suppose was some kind of nod in the direction of democracy: Polish Jerzy Buzek from the EPP and Eva-Britt Svensson, a Swedish MEP from the GUE (left green) group.  I have worked with Eva-Britt for many years on the Women’s Committee where she has done much good work, including gaining the backing of the European Parliament for the UNIFEM campaign against violence against women.  Eva-Britt demonstrated her commitment to women’s rights by talking about the subject in her address to the Parliament prior to the vote.

Eva-Britt Svensson, Swedish MEP

Eva-Britt Svensson, Swedish MEP

Yet the forces behind the deals won out in the end by a very substantial margin – Mr Buzek had 555 votes to Eva-Britt’s 89.  This is the full story according to the European Parliament news service