8th of March, the International Women's Day is a very special day for me, both as a woman and as an EU Commissioner. As a woman first, as this is an issue that is very close to my heart, and that will always be. And as an EU Commissioner because I cannot tell you how much I am convinced that we will only achieve true gender equality in Europe by working together: towns, regions and EU institutions.
I was happy to bring my contribution to tackle gender inequality in a very concrete way. CEMR (Council of European Municipalities and Regions) and I signed a joint declaration to increase the number of women elected in Europe's cities and regions.
The first action to be implemented would be some sort of Erasmus Exchange, for women involved in managing cohesion policy funding in local authorities. Our main aim is to raise awareness: to make sure gender equality improves our projects on the ground; and to foster cooperation among practitioners. This will be followed by a second action to promote gender equality in decision-making, among local authorities benefiting from cohesion policy: to launch campaigns, trainings and workshops, which would emphasise how much we could all gain, if women were empowered as much as are men; if their know-how and their energies could fully feed into these great factories of democracy that are regions and cities.
The same day, dozens of newspapers across Europe published my and my women commissioner colleagues' joint editorial on gender equality. Europe has set the benchmark for women's rights and is an example that other continents follow, since equality between men and women is a fundamental right that we shouldn't have to fight for on a daily basis. Therefore, as most papers quoted us, "we must make sure that our daughters shouldn't revisit the same battles that our grandmothers have already won."
However what I probably enjoyed most was the last stage of the day. I went to DG REGIO to meet every woman working there, to bring each of them a flower for the International Women's Day. That was something I wanted to do. Personally.