Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission support the activity of OFA UGIR

Miruna Macsim 14/11/2023 | 14:12

The latest report of the European Commission on equal opportunities between women and men shows that only 11% of the board members of large companies in Romania are women, compared to 25.3%, the European average, while in local politics, women are poorly represented with only 18% presence in the Romanian Parliament, when the EU average is 29.3%.


In this context, the International Conference “The role of women in the development of Romania”, sponsored by the Organization of Women Entrepreneurs from the General Union of Industrialists in Romania (OFA UGIR) and organized in partnership with the European Commission Representation in Romania, brought together personalities from the economic, political, academic, entrepreneurial and from civil society who analysed Romania’s situation in terms of gender equality and equal opportunities and came up with proposals for a larger participation of women in society, economy and politics. The adoption of gender quotas was one of the solutions supported by the participants of the event.

The conference had the support of the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who sent messages of appreciation for the work undertaken by OFA UGIR to promote the active role of women and highlighted the steps taken by the two European institutions for achieving gender equality and equal opportunities in the European Union.

“The European Parliament has adopted and is working on multiple legislative projects that promote women. Through the directive “Women in the boards of directors”, we insist on the adoption of the project equal pay for equal work between women and men and for the transparency of salaries in companies. Legislative changes are important in encouraging women to get involved in the economy and politics, but a modern and inclusive society must accept not only that women can lead, but also that they should lead. I am happy to see this debate and I hope that next year, in June, Romanian women will not only come out to vote, but also that there will be many candidates in the European Parliament elections and not only”, said Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, in a video message recorded especially for this conference.

The European Parliament Directive “Women on Boards” introduces transparent recruitment procedures in companies so that at least 40% of non-executive management positions or 33% of all director positions are held by women.

“Equal pay for equal work should be the norm and taken for granted. But there is still much to do. Especially in terms of leadership positions held by women in business, science, research, and politics. In Romania, for example, less than 1 in 5 members of Parliament are women, even though they represent over 50% of the population. (…) Experience has shown me that gender equality does not appear by itself. For every step we must fight because what we have gained can be easily lost. True equality requires attention and commitment every day. We can shape the course of history, including through laws and public investment. This is why Europe is investing in childcare. No one should have to choose between being a parent and pursuing a career. Instead of being seen as an obstacle to work or leadership positions, parenthood should be considered a qualification! (…) The share of women in company boards reached a record level of 33%. This is an important first success. I believe that societies where women hold leadership positions on equal terms are not only fairer societies, but also better, more prosperous, with more potential and balance between generations. It is important that we build networks and alliances among ourselves and support each other, just as men do. That’s why an event like the one organized by you is so important,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said.

“Through this international conference, we want to emphasize the essential role of women in all fields of activity, and I believe that the Romania of tomorrow is due to our actions today. Together we can make our presence felt and bring the necessary change that will create favourable conditions for women to assume leadership roles and contribute to the sustainable development of our country. We need to cultivate an environment where diversity and inclusion are not only encouraged but celebrated, and today’s event is an important step in the right direction. We want to create a space for constructive dialogue, based on collaboration, where women can share their experiences and learnings, thus helping to form a common vision for a more prosperous and egalitarian future. Today we created the opportunity to recognize and capitalize on the immense potential of women, thus strengthening the foundation for innovation, creativity, and progress in our society”, said Mirabela Miron, president of OFA UGIR.

“Current society is still built around men, and as a rule, no country has reached the level of parity between the sexes. Women all over the world face inequalities that prevent them from leading their lives. The pandemic has brought to the surface disparities such as lower wages for women, greater participation in the informal economy, childcare, and unpaid domestic work. These have made women more vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic. Also, that period led to the escalation of violence in the family. Equal opportunities bring benefits not only to women, but to the entire society. The involvement of women can promote a healthier, peaceful, prosperous, and just transition of democratic societies. The responsibility is ours, all of us. Congratulations OFA UGIR for determination and courage,” said E.S. Iulia Ramona Chiriac, Head of the European Commission Representation in Romania.

At almost 100 years after they had the right to vote, Romanian women are still fighting for equality in decision-making positions

In 2023, the gender equality index was published, based on data from 2022 and 2021. Our country ranks last in the EU, with 56.1 points out of 100, registering 14 points behind the European average.

“The conference dedicated to the role of women in the development of Romania aims to be an active platform for real debates regarding the importance and level of involvement of women in all fields of activity in our country. The objectives are the identification of specific solutions and the formulation of concrete proposals to adopt and implement, by the decision-makers, the necessary measures to reduce the existing gap between women and men at the social, economic, or political level. According to the latest report of the European Institute for Gender Equality, Romania ranked last in the European Union, with a score falling in power, gender inequalities being accentuated in the sub-areas of political and economic decision-making. We need more women in leadership positions, in the political environment and in all sectors of activity. Increasing the level of involvement of women in all fields represents Romania’s chance to reach the level of development and civilization that we want for future generations.” pointed out Mioara Iofciulescu, OFA UGIR vice-president.

“We have several ongoing projects in the field of gender equality, financed by the European Commission. ANES will develop the first national strategy for the economic and political empowerment of women and gender budgeting, along with a plan of targeted measures. The most serious form of violation of women’s rights is domestic violence. To combat this phenomenon, we built the first integrated innovative network of sheltered housing for victims of domestic violence. In every county in Romania, they can benefit from hosting for one year, with the possibility of extension, together with the children. The centres offer complementary services, such as therapy and vocational counselling for socio-professional integration. Domestic violence has eight forms, and the economic one causes women to remain captive in an abusive environment”, added Luminița Popescu, Secretary of State, Head of the National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men.

According to a study published by The Peterson Institute for International Economics, companies with more women in leadership positions tend to have better financial performance.

“The numerical results show that those companies led by women perform better than those led by men. I give you the example of state companies that show us the fact that where we have women in charge, the financial results are better. I think part of the success of the StartUp Nation program is also because over half of the entrepreneurs who applied are women. The indicators five years after the first edition of the program are fantastic – 91.3% of start-ups have survived”, added Radu Ștefan Oprea, Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism.

“Reflecting on the dynamics of the panel dedicated to the role of women in the economy within the conference, we can say with confidence that the meeting exceeded all expectations, turning into an exceptional forum of ideas, strategies and tangible initiatives. The intense and engaged dialogue highlighted not only the critical importance, but also the undeniable strength of women’s contribution to the economy – from their role in boosting macroeconomic performance to strengthening Romania’s competitive position on the global stage. By illustrating government projects, analysing the role of women in tech start-up ecosystems, and debating viable funding solutions, we have paved the way for greater involvement of women entrepreneurs at the core of the sustainable and digital economy, anticipating the future. Our event succeeded in charting a pragmatic route for women aiming to take an active role in tomorrow’s economy. The exchange of experiences and best practices that took place further strengthened our collective commitment to support and promote women’s entrepreneurship – not only as an element of gender equality, but also as a central pillar of sustainable and equitable economic growth. Through everyone’s participation and collaboration, we are on the way to building a stronger, more resilient Romanian economy and better prepared to meet the challenges of the future”, added Ana-Maria Icătoiu, OFA UGIR vice-president.

Present at the conference, E.S. Mrs. Therese Hyden, the Ambassador of Sweden in Bucharest, drew attention to the fact that equal opportunities are not a state of fact that is installed automatically from a certain level of society’s development, but is something that is difficult to obtain, after years of effective and sustained measures to promote the role and contribution of women in society. As the gender equality is achieved, society gains balance, companies become more profitable, public policies are appropriate for the entire population, so the benefits are obvious. Sweden ranks first in the EU in terms of gender equality, with a score of 82.2 points out of 100, 12 points above the European average.

In terms of gender equality and equal opportunities between women and men, Romania is improving at a slower pace than other states in the European Union. Although its score has improved, it is still and considerably lower than the EU average. In Romania, progress towards gender equality is slower, and the gap between the country and the EU average has widened over time.

The inevitable and obvious conclusion of the conference is that the involvement of women, whether in business, in NGOs or in politics, has a valuable role on society. That is why women deserve to participate in decisionmaking processes in any field of activity to the same extent as men, thus respecting the proportions of female and male presence in a society equally represented by both sexes.

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Miruna Macsim | 28/06/2024 | 12:25
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