International Women's Day: Recognising the true value of women

Written by Maria Grapini on 8 March 2019 in Opinion

Every day, not just International Women’s Day, should be an opportunity to encourage women to take a role in politics, argues Maria Grapini.

Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

International Women’s Day is a symbol for all women in the world. It is an opportunity to celebrate their work and achievements and to reflect their status.

International Women’s Day also allows us to raise awareness of the improvements needed to reach gender equality and female empowerment in a sustainable way. I strongly believe that, by investing in education, we will create a better world with greater respect for values, regardless of gender.

I am proud to have been involved in actions to promote women’s values and promote the need for equal opportunities in our societies for more than 20 years.


Having founded the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Romania in 1997 and the Coalition of Women Business Associations from Romania (CAFA) in 2004, I continue to promote the role of women in the economy and in leadership. Women have anthropological qualities that help them to be good communicators, organisers and managers with initiative and ambition.

They can be mothers, they can build professional careers, and they can also successfully combine both. Conversely, we still live in times where woman and girls are stigmatised, sold, assaulted and discriminated against at work or through domestic violence, harassment or intimidation.

As a former Minister, and now as a MEP, I have supported and initiated regulations that recognise the true value and capacity of women. However, regulations are not enough; we also have to supervise their application. It is the responsibility of all levels of society to mainstream gender equality, but it is also our civic responsibility.

As we approach the European parliamentary elections, we must address the under-representation of women in politics around the world. True democracy functions with a fair representation of its people and their diversity.

Women make up more than half of the global population but represent under 30 percent of politicians. Human Rights Watch noted that “the more closely government represents the composition of society as a whole, the more sustainable its policies are likely to be.”

With women in leadership, issues specific to women or that affect them disproportionately are more likely to be tackled than where there is an overwhelming majority of men in power.

"Gender disparities in society, and at home, lead to fewer chances for women to pursue a political career. Girls cannot be what they cannot see; it is time to actively encourage women to take on political roles"

In order to get women increasingly involved in politics, there needs to be an environment conducive to their empowerment. Institutional patriarchy and systemic sexism are the opposite.

Gender disparities in society, and at home, lead to fewer chances for women to pursue a political career. Girls cannot be what they cannot see; it is time to actively encourage women to take on political roles.

Short-term electoral gender quotas should be used to compensate for structural discrimination and barriers against women in politics until the balance is redressed.

With these thoughts in mind, I wish Happy Women’s Day to all women and girls in the world. I also wish our partners, the men, the power to understand; because the recognition of women’s potential and gender equality contributes to a better society.

History shows that women can fulfil any profession or function with efficiency and effectiveness, and often relates to the fact that “behind every successful man is a good and tired woman.”

However, the future will see women stepping out of the shadows and taking up their roles in creating a more balanced and sustainable society.

About the author

Maria Grapini (RO, S&D) is a gender equality campaigner and member of the IMCO committee

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