feminism-europe

Officially observed by the United Nations, International Women’s Day has its origins in the early twentieth century and the organised labour movements of Europe and North America. At the time, women in most countries couldn’t vote or stand for office, and lacked many of the legal rights we now take for granted (married women, for example, often needed their husband’s legal consent to own property, open bank accounts, or to find employment).

But who really cares? We’re living in 2016. Women have equality in Europe, right? The EU certainly prides itself on having equal rights for men and women as one of it founding values (though its inclusion in the 1957 Treaty of Rome was probably initially more about economic necessity than idealism). But how much do the EU’s values match up with the reality?

In 2003, the European Commission started keeping a database to monitor the numbers of men and women in key decision-making positions in Europe. The statistics show that only 4% of executive-level positions in the largest publicly-listed companies in the EU are held by women.

Things aren’t much better in politics, where only 22.6% of sitting parliamentarians in Europe are female. Not to mention the fact that, on average, men are paid 16% more than women for doing exactly the same job.

Some women are uncomfortable with the label ‘feminism’. They prefer terms such as ‘humanist’, ‘egalitarian’, or (*shudder*) ‘equalist’. For their part, feminists point out that they share the exact same goal of equality; feminists are not somehow trying to get all women into a position of dominance over all men, but rather to address inequality by empowering women.

Is there just too much baggage attached to the label ‘feminism’? Does it need a re-branding exercise? Or are Europeans taking for granted the hard-won rights that now exist for women, and ignoring the inequality that still persists?

Is feminism still relevant in Europe today? Are young Europeans uncomfortable calling themselves ‘feminists’? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – SunWALKer


65 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • Anfas Shah

      How? It is the same all over.

  1. Tarquin Farquhar

    Yes of course!!

    Equal rights for all.
    Equal opportunity for all.

    • Anfas Shah

      Constitutions give equal rights.😒

    • nicola

      that’s literally the definition of feminism…

  2. Julian

    Real equality is still a long way to go, even in europe. While the public discourse has mainly embraced ideas of equality, underlying sexist ideas are still very present. And the reactionary backlash looming on european political horizons should remind us that we should not take anything for granted!

  3. Saskia Rombach

    Love these EU debate posts but THIS IS NOT A DEBATE. That’s like saying “do women deserve freedom of speech, human rights, equal pay? yes/no?” not a debate. sorry for shouting.

  4. Andrej Němec

    No it’s a stupid waste of time / resources / energy. Let’s concentrate our efforts on how to get the economy back on track. Women will benefit from the economic growth too.

    • Jess

      Yes sure… before the financial crisis we were in total equality… Damn, some people are so selfish.

  5. Paul X

    On paper men and women are treated equally but you cannot force people to vote for a woman MP or force companies to promote women if they are not the best for the position, positive discrimination is never justifiable
    Of more concern to women should be the hoardes of people currently streaming into Europe and the attitude towards females they bring with them

    • Jeff

      feminism is about equality for both genders not just women not just men EQUALITY

    • Jen

      Don’t listen to Jeff that’s the propaganda of it feminism nowadays borders an extremist movement if it was about equal rights I couldn’t have cheated on my husband and got 3 quarters of his life savings through divorce make him loose his job and his business and take him for full custody of his kids so its entirely up to me if I choose I want to let him see them or not and until I feel Im no longer upset at him for working all the time. He is never going to see his children :)

  6. Alex

    No is not an argument.

    Have you looked at the numbers above?
    How about you give arguments why we do not need feminism (and read the definition first) anymore, which are not a mere opinion and based on verifiable facts?

  7. Vitaliy Markov

    absolutely, there are countless countries in the world, including Western ones, where women still face dicsrimination

  8. Julia Veble Mikić

    So long, Debating Europe, time to unlike/unfollow.

    Giving a platform to immature and uninformed bigots and implying all opinions are somehow equal and valid is not “debating” – it is legitimising bigotry.

    Stop embarrassing yourselves, all of you.

  9. Neil Clarke

    Europe is better for equality than most of the world, but interestingly the UK is better than most of Europe

  10. Eskedar

    Although we live in a century of democracy, freedom, capitalism, innovation, information technology and knowledge we still fail on the basics. There is no democracy nor freedom without gender equality. We close our eyes on the injustice towards women and girls. We set double standards at home, in public and at work. The ugly truth is every one of us are responsible. We are the one shaping the future for our children and the generations after them.
    http://eskedarmastaviciene.blogspot.lt/2016/03/international-tulips-day-march-8.html

  11. Stefania Portici

    quando si parla dei diritti delle donne si parla dei diritti del lavoro ( con la maternità, asili nido ecc… ) diritti per il voto, per l’istruzione ecc…Tutti questi diritti il popolo europeo li aveva prima di entrare nella UE. L’Unione europea ha distrutto questi diritti per le donne e per gli uomini. Disoccupazione alta ( donne e uomini uguale ) , concorrenza agguerrita sul lavoro con facilità al licenziamento ( qui le donne sono in difficoltà ) . Asili nido e istruzione la UE li ha distrutti sia per i maschi che per le femmine , si sta portando tutto al privato. Chi può studia e chi non può….la UE ci vuole analfabeti. E per ultimo resta il voto ….chi riesce a votare alzi la mano ! Non stiamo votando NESSUNO .Se la domanda è ” ha senso il femminismo? ” in realtà la domanda dovrebbe essere ” Ha senso tutto questo? “

  12. João Roque

    I think we’re at the stage where all significant barriers for women have fallen and now it’s inevitable that they succeed and claim their rightful place in society. I believe as well that positive discrimination is discrimination nevertheless and if such a thing exists is not just counter productive, it’s flat out morally wrong

  13. Anne Crochette

    À lot to do still for gender equality. We need feminist and even pro feminist . Everyone is needed

  14. Philip Sabev

    We need more than feminism and humanitarianism today, we need to be human towards each other.

  15. Yannick Cornet

    It’s even worse than we think. Even if there was parity on boards and management groups, they would likely continue to follow masculine norms (*). Feminists not only argue for equal opportunity for women, they argue for changing a system that is biased towards men and has deeply institutionalised masculine norms. With our global challenges becoming more pressing, and the important role women could have in a transforming the world towards a more sustainable pathway, we should really all become feminists.

    (*) Kronsell, A., 2013. Gender and transition in climate governance. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 7, pp.1–15. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210422412000731

    • Jen

      Lol first you stated that feminism fights for men as well as women as equals then state the “important role women could have” talk about double standards…. But I guess that’s how it works state its for equal rights while shoving one under the carpet then shame any woman that doesn’t fall for your propaganda (y)

  16. Harriet

    Yes, of course!
    Many women still face a mission impossible when it comes to having both a career AND a family, for instance. That applies especially to women in Western countries as they do not have a strong family support system, where their mothers or sisters would not mind helping out. No matter how much equality there is on paper, women are thrown out of the job market when they have children and face the difficulty of returning to their careers after birth/child-rising. Or WORSE, they hold off having children until they are secure in their jobs and then are unable biologically to have children. Women are not adequately supported and men not educated enough that they should shoulder the same workload when it comes to household chores and child raising. That’s why most women are scared of becoming pregnant because they know they will have to shoulder so, so much work (more than their male counterparts) even if they are lucky enough not to be single mothers.

    I am 27 year old woman and want a family but know that I am not yet stable enough in my career to risk stepping out for a few months/years and returning to a good job afterwards. I am anxious every day about making it far enough in my current job and still being young enough to have children. I am also worried about shouldering a challenging job AND potentially being a mother at the same time. It sounds like a recipe for disaster (or burn-out).

    Men do not have to worry about this as much as they have more time focusing on their career and are still biologically able to have children later in life. Women need to be supported with adequate policies tackling this issue and men and women need to be educated about how outdated traditional roles are so women stop facing so much pressure of juggling both a career and family (children, household etc.). The society is all too eager to jump at opportunities to label women “bad mothers”.

  17. blugalf

    Feminism doesn’t have, and never had, anything positive to contribute to humankind as a whole. It’s a narrow frame of mind, relying solely on a perceived antagonist and enemy to define and justify its existence. It’s not really aiming for equal opportunities, it’s demanding equal results, “do something!!”, no matter what. A very passive stance – “Honi soit qui mal y pense”.

    IMHO, “Feminism”, as it is understood today, is a slap in the face of a great number of highly capable women who, throughout history and in spite of great hardships, have contributed to human progress.

  18. Jess

    Yes, we need feminism, and more than ever when we see the previous posts… The name matters, of course, it has been qualified ‘feminism’ on purpose to lead stupid people to think it aims as women robbing the power from men, or to make men ashamed to call themselves ‘feminists’as it sounds like if they would say being female. But the name is given now, we can change it into ‘equalitarianism’ if we want, but I think it is good it keep the inheritance of its reason of birth, the discrimination towards women.
    But the more important is not the name itself, but the fight behind, and like discrimination against black people, it is now time to stop discrimination against women in Europe who are still doing all the domestic tasks, have lower income, much less professional achievement than men, and sadly, dying by thousand each year under the punches of violent husbands…
    FEMINISM NEEDED MORE THAN EVER, HOPING FOR BETTER DAYS TO COME FOR OUR DAUGHTERS

  19. catherine benning

    Feminism = What? Who? How? When?

    This is another word that’s plied around the world pretending to ‘unite women’ onto a journey of fulfilling and satisfying collective political needs. It is a quango that does not in anyway address the issues of women. In fact it is a detriment to the real lives of true women.

    First and foremost the movement is set up to remove all sense of what is fundamental to the lives of women and turns them into a premise of psuedo masculinity. This of course is a global move toward an objective known as ‘Slave Planet.’ Which these idiots collude in.

    Many who run for office shout loudly, follow me girls, I’m an example to show you how you can have it all by pretending to be a man, or, better still, pretending there is no such thing as gender. This notion is spread around to keep women down and fight exhaustively against human nature. So called ‘Feminists’ collude in this obsession.

    Yet, these same women, some in very high places indeed, use the backs of the men in their lives to cover the piggy back jump they attempt as they climb on their males cloud to reach where they want to go and what they want to do surreptitiously. Once in office, true women’s issues are abandoned and they stay as clear as they can from any input into them. Here is another example of ‘feminists’ keeping under wraps the genuine plight of real women in the society and culture they claim they are suitable to lead or speak for.

    Only ‘yesterday’ I listened to a debate in Parliament, the British House of Commons, where a ‘man’ had taken up the plight of women who had been allowed to enter our country, on God knows what grounds, to infest our society with yet another disgusting dark ages practice of tribal lifestyle. One that ‘feminists’ have kept quiet for years. Even now only two of three turning up in the chamber to debate the matter. In fact the chamber was virtually empty.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35877743

    Add this exposure to the cover up, by feminists in power for years, regarding, female genital mutilation and the way these same feminists hide from being too concerned over what this act has done to our British society. You see they consider the abuse of women if raised by them could make them open to the call of ‘racist,’ a PC threat, which without doubt would affect their possible career prospects. So, they do that little evil hide the truth that men have practised for years as they pretend they know nothing. Thousands, and I mean literally thousands, of women have had this horror forced on them and covered for years in the UK because they were mainly immigrants from Cameroon, Nigeria and other African states, living and often born in Birmingham and London. The cost to our health service, as well as the suffering women have had to endure, hidden by the feminist as it was not an issue seen as flavour of the month for the stepping stones of their career. Now we hear the same cover story regarding this little horror called ‘Breast Ironing.’ Not a word of it from our so called powerful female careerists. Just as not a word from them on child rape being performed all over our wonderful and productive immigrant communities. And these rape acts were carried out on mainly white indigenous British children, by the followers of Islam, so it cannot be hidden under the auspices of cultural differences as they were British children. And there were not one or two but thousands experiencing this horror until recently exposed.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11057647/Rotherham-sex-abuse-scandal-1400-children-exploited-by-Asian-gangs-while-authorities-turned-a-blind-eye.html

    Then of course the forcing of women to abandon their children from the day they leave the womb for career paths the equivalent of men. Because, they pipe it is disgusting any woman should be supported by the father of her child as that reduces her to scum bag. Feminists are in fact ‘anti female, anti child and downright cloud jumpers’ on any of the men they pull into their lives.

    They cling onto and use these needy men, whom they despise as a species, in order to advance ‘their’ status by taking on the dominatrix form of threat should it be spoken or addressed.

    Feminists do not stand for me as a woman. Not in my name. It is time women and their children, suffering under this heavy imposition from psuedo or faux women, rose up and rejected their bull fast and hard.

    Of course, the most prominent so called ‘feminist’ presently running as prospective leader of the ‘free world,’ on the back of an adulterous but said to be affable husband, regardless of his penchant for numerous not simply one affair is an outright humiliation. Follow me girls I’m the example of your life.

    Pleeeeeese, give me a break. ‘Do we still need feminism today?’ …. ‘We never had it in the first place.’

    • Jen

      You deserve a round of applause 👏

  20. Philip M.

    Hi. This paragraph grabbed my attention:

    ‘Some women are uncomfortable with the label ‘feminism’. They prefer terms…‘humanist’, ‘egalitarian’, or (*shudder*) ‘equalist’…feminists point out that they share…goal of equality;…are not somehow trying…position of dominance over all men, but rather to address inequality by empowering women.

    Is there just too much baggage attached to the label ‘feminism’? Does it need a re-branding exercise?’

    First, off-topic, ‘humanism’ doesn’t mean much. What makes a humanist’s take on life more valuable than any other human being’s: a label?! Now back to the subject again…

    Problem with all this is that ‘feminism’ doesn’t mean anything either and never did. The Suffragettes were trying to gain equal rights not redefining what it is to be feminine.

    Equal rights for women is different to ‘Feminism’. But then equal rights don’t exist because equal rights aren’t really the case. Not for anyone. Because power and money is always put as priority over the real meaning of what it means to be truly ‘equal’ – equality based on productivity rather than the fact you exist is current understanding.

    The term ‘Feminism’ is “branding” that simply plays into the hands of misogynist men. True femininity is not Feminism. The definition of femininity is recognised differently according to where you are located in the world. In Third World countries, femininity would be recognised by all as something much stronger, and therefore, radiant. In the West, it is something superficial and silly – what constitutes ‘femininity’ in many cultures, is a false ideal. So Feminism is a non-sensical reaction to a false notion of femininity. And it has come about because of the over-sensualised decadence of many contemporary lifestyles – the Retailer’s haven.

    If women were truly valued, then ‘Feminism’ would cease to be, and motherhood would be truly revered, because womanhood is not disconnected from motherhood, but is one. True femininity embraces all that a woman is. Feminism despises its own biology and plays the victim. That is not to say that every woman would suit being a mother but that the biology ought to not be ignored.

    So the real problem is ‘inequality’. But then the EU doesn’t know what that term means either. Women are made to feel that they have to do all the things that men do because they are not appreciated. While women can do all the things men can do, probably better than men in many cases, many women would not bother if they were made to feel valued, but who does, when we live in a world in which one is apparently inferior if we can’t do everything that everyone else can – this pressure is on the shoulder’s of both men and women?! In a world in which the family is looked down upon, being a mother is not one of the most revered roles to be in – a lack fo respect for true womanhood.

    In industries where women do work in the same roles then yes, women ought to receive the same pay as men, and have the same opportunities as men to be promoted, but the figures are not equal possibly because many women choose to appreciate and embrace the opportunity they have, up to a certain age, to be mothers, and so stop career-climbing at a certain point. To be some big-shot CEO or whatever is not exactly going to make time for bringing up a child. And yes, children need both feminine mothers and masculine fathers to be around, much of the time.

    – The EU needs to define for itself exactly ‘equality’ means. The true definition already exists.
    – Women need to embrace the beauty of womanhood and true femininity.
    – People need to be shown that money and power does not automatically make for happiness.
    – And yes, as always, men need to try harder to be more appreciative of women in ALL areas of life.
    – Maybe men also need to have a check on what being a man really means. Maybe being a man is simply to not empower themselves over the good of others.

  21. João Pires

    No, because its meaning was totally distorted by the new wave of feminists. Egalitarian is a nice new term to celebrate and talk about although irrelevant in europe since rights are equal.

  22. Iarribi

    We certainly don’t. Most of the arguments feminists use to defend their cause are fallacies (such as the pay gap myth) and because it’s also bulls**t that feminism is about equality.

  23. Assumpta Esiaka

    The fact that the writer asked this question, simply shows that we still need feminism. Until we treat all human beings equally, we need feminism. We need feminism because most people are still blindly agreeing that women don’t need to be paid for the same work as men, that they are okay with the indifference and injustices so ingrained in society that they have accepted it as a way of life.
    The response on this thread is alarming and disheartening. Young women these days are taking feminism for granted, ignoring what brave women went through to get us to this point.
    Feminism is not a gender issue, it is a humanity issue. If you care about social justice, you should care about feminism!

  24. Natasha

    I think feminism should exist because although we are a lot more equal than we used to be inequality between the sexes still exist. For example, women only make up 29% of parliament and whilst it’s a 25.2% increase since 1945 it’s still not enough to say that yes, actually men and women are equal because the stats show that they’re not.
    Whether feminism should exist or not shows that it should exist because it’s as if you’re questioning if everyone is equal and if you have to ask and think about it then clearly everyone is not equal.
    There should be a day where the word feminism should be a thing of the past because everyone, no matter gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion etc is equal; that is the sort of future I want for my children.

  25. Anna

    Feminism is not a problem in the uk anymore. the pay gap is a myth, women actually have more rights than men, do you want me to go on. sure it is still a problem globally but not in the uk or Europe

  26. Linn

    Yes, we do! We absolutely do! When everything and everyone are equal then maybe we can start talking about feminism as something unnecessary. We should maybe start with equal salary for both men and women because that is not something that is equal right now. Why should men get more paid when women do the same job? Exactly the same and as well as men do. I mean why shouldn’t men and women have the same rights? There is no reason to why women should get paid less if they practice the same job as well as everyone else. But equal salary is still a problem in Europe and that is one reason why we still need feminism.

    There are a lot of different reasons to why feminism is still important. Because we still live in a world where it is not okay for a woman to show as much skin as a man. Because a lot a woman are sexualy abused every day. Because showing skin is the reason to why woman are sexualy abused in some opinions. The question should be WHY we still need feminism. We need feminism for the equal rights between men and woman.

  27. Anfas Shah

    See feminism is a rotten topic. It shouldn’t even be a topic. I mean what the hell is feminism even supposed to be; women demanding equal rights but still want special rights. I remember once, we had a checking at prep classes. All the bags that belonged to males were checked but not even a single person touched a girls bag. That felt frustrating. Women are tanecious. They want the same glory as of their feminist ancestors. GET WITH IT. You already have all the rights you can want and need but you still want more and more. Let’s cut the bullshit and live life like a normal human being.

  28. Jen

    Feminism is no longer about equal rights in this day and age especially when they already have more than equal rights here in at least the uk and western europe and IS about female dominance over society I believe it is very harshly in need of rebranding especially now that most feminists these days border the line of extremism if u think I’m wrong check up the lists of female and male privladges and U tell ME women have less rights than men

  29. adhayan

    feminism is not required as nowdays women are self sufficient and the are reaching equal heights than men.

  30. Jamie Nung Vu

    It is simply not true that Women are paid less for the exact same job; maybe in a very vague sense, but let’s be real; it’s illegal for a company to pay one employee more than the other for the exact same work done. As always, other sectors of work are driven by the constant of productivity.

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