Isabelle Steinkalik – WIZO Bruxelles

The last weekend of May was held the twenty-fifth European Women Lobby. We were more than a hundred women from all over Europe to celebrate this event.

Friday, on May 29th, we met all around a very healthy lunch at a hotel in downtown Brussels. Then, sports women walked to join the Brussels Parliament (despite awful weather) and less athletics tested the Brussels metro.

isabelleThe seminar opened with many different speakers. The EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum stated everything what had been undertaken (and successful) for 25 years. The president of the Brussels Parliament, Charles Pique, explained that when women progress in society, the whole society progresses with. Malin Bjork, Member of the European Parliament, told that the men / women equality is more respected in all fields. Sam Touzani, a feminist comedian read us an extract from his upcoming show, and ended by saying that the woman is the future of man. After all this talk, very interesting, the EWL team came with a wonderful birthday cake and 25 candles! We spent the evening in a beautiful Italian Brasserie, and everything ended in music.

Saturday morning was reserved for meetings of the board members, while delegates had free morning until lunch. The AG has started with this beautiful sentence of Angela Davis: “I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I’m changing the things I cannot accept “. There were several presentations and 2 workshops have been proposed to us. Our table (composed of Belgian, Dutch, Macedonian, Hungarian, Maltese women) had to find a great idea “to position women, at the heart of political, social and economic and decision making participation”. It was also necessary to define the role of EWL to help us achieve this, and the means employed. To be honest, our “big idea” was quite banal (“change things begin at the local level”). But an original idea was excessively applauded: create an App mobile which would make the total working hours day of a woman. So men could realize the superwomen we are all! In the following workshop, creativity was needed. Each table received an empty bottle of wine and needed to achieve an original label on the women’s cause. It was a lot of fun. For dinner, it was asked each table to feminize a fairy tale and present it as sketch. In short, an exceptional evening!

Sunday morning, the serious things were expecting us. Several positions were to be filled, and it took a vote. All the ladies who presented themselves where elected. Thereafter, it had to validate the strategic framework of the EWL for the next 5 years. We They were sent a week before in order for us to get acquainted with and give our opinion. The vision of the EWL and its mission was very well detailed. With its 6 core values (equality, diversity, respect, dignity, justice and peace) and its 5 principles (women’s rights are human rights (non-negotiable and indivisible), solidarity, autonomy, participation and inclusion). As well as the theory of change and its strategic objectives.

We also approve of the financial accounts. The budget is very complicated to balance, because costs are too high. It is possible that the next AG will take place again in Brussels. It would already make big savings. Despite these money problems, the fee is the same. And some organizations may even benefit from a reduced fee, if the amount originally requested is too high.

Two emergency motions were validated to be submitted to the European Parliament. The first spoke of the humanitarian emergency to protect women in armed conflict in Ukraine. The second called for a ban of handguns during the European year 2016 if it is dedicated to the prohibition of violence against women.

During the following morning, some delegates spoke. One of them about his experience at the Commission on the status of women (CSW) and complained that the speeches that are pronounced are not quite often followed by acts. Another spoke of maternity leave which should be harmonized at European level. The European Parliament would agree but the Council of Europe would object. Some blockade by country because it would be a reform that cost too much…

Finally, the team of the EWL was introduced to us…

Till next year, ladies!