THE BLOG

Women in Parliaments Summit in Addis Ababa

04/15/2015 11:47 am ET | Updated Mar 24, 2016

The empowerment of women is something that I feel particularly strongly about -- both as a Commissioner, and more importantly, as a human being.

I'm therefore stunned when I read statistics that only one in five Parliamentarians across the world are women. How can this be in the 21st century, and how can we expect that half of the world's population is heard, if they are not properly represented politically?

This is why the recent Women in Parliaments Summit was so important. This year's Summit, which took place in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia from 23 to 25 March, was the largest ever. It brought together over 400 Parliamentarians from around the world to discuss how new leaders, both female and male, can work together to address the issue of women's empowerment in politics, gender equality and other global challenges.

I was proud to give an opening speech and participate on the panel with a straightforward question: "Our planet in 2030: A woman's world?". My answer was clear: I will personally strive to make that happen and will use all available EU resources to close the gender gap worldwide once and for all, together with our international partners. There can be no development without women's empowerment.

Away from the Summit, I also had the opportunity to see for myself some of the projects we run in Addis. I went to visit the Addis Ababa Women's Association, who are doing extraordinary work in running a shelter for women, girls and boys who are victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.

The inspirational workers that I met there provided me with an even sharper reminder of how far we still have to go to protect women and girls (and boys) from violence and to help empower them to live a life without discrimination.

I hope that the Women in Parliaments Summit will be a generator of new thinking and ideas on how we can close the gender gap in politics and give women an equal role in all walks of life. You can be assured of my commitment on this issue. I will continue to do all I can to help the empowerment of women and girls, wherever they live.