Zita Gurmai re-elected PES Women President with pledge to strengthen women’s voices across Europe
PES Women will be at the forefront of the progressive battle to win the next European elections and strengthen women’s rights, the re-elected President of PES Women said today.
Zita Gurmai was speaking at the PES Women annual conference after delegates re-elected her to head up the organisation for the next two and a half years.
PES Women brings together women - MPs, MEPs and activists - from PES member parties to discuss, strengthen and promote gender equality within and outside the PES. PES Women advocates for an equal role for women in politics and actively contributes to the PES policy making process.
Zita Gurmai, PES Women President, said:
“I am very honoured to have been re-elected by my sisters as President of PES Women. We have a newly elected PES Women board and we are ready to work together to give voice to women across Europe and put forward a vision of equality.
“As we approach the 2019 European elections, there must be parity between genders in politics, including in our own political family. I am looking forward to working with the whole socialist family to set our priorities and win the mandate we need to change Europe for the better. I know that it is not always easy, but we in PES Women have the chance and duty to make a real difference on issues that are important to women, together with women in our parties and beyond.
“PES Women and the PES will stand by all women in the continued fight against discrimination and for women’s rights in the EU and beyond. This comes naturally to the PES. Our parties are strong campaigners for women’s rights, and as our resolutions show, our party sees gender equality and women’s rights issues as a political priority.”
The PES Women conference took a closer look at one of the biggest issues hindering women’s political participation and progress towards equality in the long run. Taking place with the slogan ‘Violence against Women in Politics: A Cost to Democracy!’, activists, academics and politicians at the conference came together to discuss the scope, cause and impact of violence directed towards women in politics. Research has found almost half (46.9 per cent) of female MPs have received violent threats, including death threats or threats of rape or beating, and 40.5 per cent said they had been sexually harassed at work.
Zita Gurmai, PES Women President, added:
“Violence against women in politics carries the clear message that women should not participate fully in public life. At PES Women we have decided that enough is enough. With the European elections around the corner we want to raise-awareness and create a political environment where it is fair and safe for women to run for office. I urge women: Speak out. Vote. Promote – keep supporting women in politics.”
At the PES Women conference, the organisation also elected a new bureau to oversee the organisation. The following people were elected:
- Marja Bijl, PvdA (the Netherlands)
- Zefi Dimadama, PASOK (Greece)
- Mija Javornik, SD (Slovenia)
PES Women Executive Members:
- Rhonda Donaghey, Labour Party (Ireland)
- Elke Ferner, SPD (Germany)
- Cecilia Gondard, PS (France)
- Romana Jerkovic, SDP (Croatia)
- Michaela Kauer, SPÖ (Austria)
- Roulla Mavronikola, EDEK (Cyprus)
- Marianne Mikko, ESD (Estonia)
- Elza Pais, PS (Portugal)
- Olga Zrihen, PS (Belgium)
- Laeticia Thissen, FEPS
- Andrea Scheck, YES
- Iratxe Garcia Perez, S&D FEMM
- Alasia Sanchia, PES Group CoR
About Zita Gurmai
Zita Gurmai was elected as President of PES Women for the first time on 21 October 2004. Zita Gurmai has been active in Hungarian and international women’s movements since the early 1990s. In 1995, she became involved in the women’s section of the Hungarian Socialist Party, after which she was elected President of the organization in 2001. One of her first major initiatives as President was to launch the “Women for Change” movement, often referred to as “yellow scarf movement”, which was successful in advocating the introduction of gender quotas in the Hungarian Socialist Party.
Zita was instrumental in establishing and directing three foundations (Women in Public, Our Future, the Europe of the new Millennium Foundation and the Real Equal Opportunities Foundation) in Hungary which seek to improve gender equality in different areas. Zita plays an important role in the activities of the Central and Eastern European Network for Gender Issues which was set up in 1998. The mission of the network is to assist progressive women from socialist and social democratic parties and NGOs in organizing and promoting gender equality campaigns and initiatives.
Elected MP from 2002 -2004, Zita worked on the Hungarian Parliament’s Committees on European Integration and Foreign Affairs. In the first European elections of the EU of 25 member states (June 2004), Zita was elected Member of the European Parliament. During the 2004-09 European Parliament term, she was Vice-President of the Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee and a member of Regional Development Committee. In 2009, she was re-elected as Member of the European Parliament and was appointed Vice-President of European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee. Amongst other activities, Zita also promotes gender equality and women’s rights in the Global Progressive Forum project and is Vice-President of the progressive think thank the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS). In April 2018, Zita was re-elected to the Hungarian Parliament.