On June 7th. all Europeans citizens with age of majority in the 27 Member States of the European Union are called to elect their representatives in the European Parliament. The waning interest amongst Europeans in EU affairs has forced the European Commission authorities to launch an institutional campaign to encourage voters to participate.
In a growing organisation that has expanded to the east to recently include Bulgaria & Romania in the Union, the female population of the nearly 500 M European citizens of the EU amounts to 51% of the total 27-state census. Of said female population, only Bulgarian women have a mean childbearing age below 25 whilst the other members vary between 26 and 31, with global EU chilbearing age average as high as 29. Aside from cultural traits, a serious analysis of women’s participation in 21st. century labour has imposed a reorganisation of priorities. Thus, the conception of offspring has been relegated to second term.
If we further consider that the EPP majority in the actual European Parliament has achieved to turn down the proposal to grant a 20-week maternity leave to all working mothers in the EU, it is more than probable that women in all Member States will further delay their motherhood. From the looks of vote projections for the forthcoming June 7th. elections, the Christian Democrat & Conservative EPP bloc would revalidate its European Parliament majority even if the British Conservatives and the Czech ODS finally abandon the EPP. It is curious to observe that Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, stands out as the strongest bastion of the EPP stand in Europe. The recent consolidation of the centre-right in Italy into a single party (PDL) is sure to wipe the last traces of left-party resistance to his parliamentary supremacy both in Italy and the Italian representation at the European Parliament.
I have asked myself what a woman in Italy must feel when a Prime Minister denigrates the figure a woman stands for and converts her into a mere attraction. Berlusconi, with his frustrated inclusion into his party’s ticket of numerous women in the showbiz and his boisterously publicised divorce after an apparent infidelity with an 18-year-old upcoming actress, still is accepted by 2 out of every 3 Italians. If this pattern is extrapolated in different European states within the Union, one must reach the sad conclusion that we Europeans are more in favour of show than political responsibility. Furthermore, we may seem to be showing a certain macho complex in our attitude towards women’s rights such as is the case of the rejected 20-week maternity leave.
This attitude will drive us further into the socio-economic crisis we are all undergoing. The very reason given by some Euro-deputies that adding weeks of leave to new mothers is a burden business cannot sustain, falls flat on its face if one seriously considers the grave effects on medium term of the alarmingly decreasing of new babies to face Europe’s strongly aged & declining population. Will Berlusconi and his EPP gang be around to resolve the lack of young productive workers to pay off the state pension schemes in each of the 27 Member States? Will the women of Europe have abandoned their wish to motherhood, afraid to lose their jobs should they become pregnant?
Is this the united Europe we want? Definitely, it’s not my vision of the Europe I was told we were building way back half a century ago. I don’t intend that a few bigots and a radiant showman drive us off track. A protest vote of all those you believe in women having a dignified role in today’s European Union society is in order.
Madrid, May 9, 2009