Sudden Death of Former UWE President Willemijn Van Der Meer

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IFUW Board 2010-2013 at the 91st Council Meeting represented by (from left to right):Treasurer Catherine Bell , Vice Presidents Willemijn Van Der Meer, Jenny Strauss, Anne Negre, President Marianne Haselgrave and Leigh Bradford Ratteree, the Secretary General


Dear Friends,
We have just learned about the sudden death of our friend  Willemijn van der Meer with great sadness.
For years, she was a figure of young women involved in IFUW, tireless advocate for working with her. Always devoted, she became president of UWE then we were at the same time vice president of IFUW from 2010 to 2013 under the presidency of Marianne Haselgrave.
On behalf of you all, I extend the most sincere condolences to her family.
For the Board,
Anne Nègre
President University Women of Europe

Unequal Pay Day – call for improved gender equality in the workplace

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31 October marks the Equal Pay Day, the day from which women effectively work for free until the end of the year compared to their male counterparts. The gender pay gap currently stands at 16,2% in the European Union, exceeding 20% in countries like Estonia and Czech Republic. This adds to the gender inequalities women face across their life-cycle and affects each one of them differently, depending on their race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, level of education, location and other social or personal circumstances. 

European Women’s Lobby and University Women of Europe are calling for increased efforts to end the gender pay gap. Even though the principle of equal pay for equal work was enshrined in the 1957 founding Treaty of the EU, European women continue to face discrimination in the job market and to earn less than men.

In addition, because women are paid less, they contribute less to their pensions and this translates into a wide pension gap and higher risk of poverty for older women. Their pension income is negatively influenced both by the gender pay gap and by the time spent out of the labor-market to care for children and other dependent family members, together with women’s over representation in part-time work and in low paid sectors of the economy.

To effectively tackle the gender pay gap, it is necessary to address its multiple and complex root causes, starting from the lack of high quality, accessible and affordable care services. As we have seen, women are penalized throughout their lives for the things they do to keep society functioning, that is care responsibilities. There are a number of important mechanisms already in place or in the pipe-line at the EU-level to lift this weight from women’s shoulders, and the EU Institutions need to demonstrate political will in putting them to use without delay.

One such measure is the so-called “Work-life Balance Directive”, for which the Council agreed its negotiating position (general approach) in June. The Proposal entails the strengthening of parental leave by making the 2 months period non-transferable, the introduction of a carers’ leave and the extension of flexible working arrangement for carers. While the scope of these measures has been sensibly reduced in comparison with the original Commission’s proposal, their adoption would enable women to retain their economic independence while having children and to return swiftly to payed work.

Therefore, we call for a swift adoption of the Proposal for a Directive on Work-Life Balance, followed by enforcement and monitoring. While it is not a magic wand, we believe that this would be a first step towards closing the gender pay gap and ensuring a more equal society for everybody.

Read the statement by the European Commission
Find here the action by PES Women for Unequal Pay Day

For More Information

The gender pay gap in the EU

Work Life Balance Eurobarometer

Work Life Balance proposal

EIGE’s gender equality factsheets based on the results of EIGE’s Gender Equality Index 2017.

Report on pay openness in Finland

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Thanks to our members in Finland, we share with all of you the news that a report on pay openness, compiled by Ombudsman for Equality Jukka Maarianvaara, was submitted to Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services from Finland on 16 October. It should be an inspiring tool for other countries fighting with the same issue: the gender pay gap. 

According to the Press Release published by Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the main conclusion of the report  was that the individual employee’s right of access to pay data should be improved. 

Report on pay openness (Reports and Memorandums of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 41/2018) (in Finnish)

According to Maarianvaara, the Act on Equality between Women and Men should be amended by including more detailed provisions on pay surveys to reveal unfounded differences in employees’ pay. The purpose of pay surveys is to find out whether women and men are treated equally in terms of the pay.

Maarianvaara stresses that the key means to promote pay openness is legislation. Appropriate legislation enables to take account of the rights of employers and all employees in an equitable manner, also including matters such as personal data protection. The legislation is supplemented by measures by labor market organisations and at workplaces.

“The right to equal pay for equal work or work of equal value and to non-discrimination are fundamental rights. Increased openness of data on what people are paid for their work is a necessity in order that this fundamental right is a reality. It is also important to keep in mind that other fundamental and human rights are not an obstacle to wider pay openness”, says Professor Kevät Nousiainen.

How to proceed?

The thorough work by Maarianvaara brings forth problems relating to pay openness and means to solve these. Pay discrimination is difficult to verify if sufficient pay data is not available says Minister Annika Saarikko. Often the pay surveys at workplaces are not detailed enough and the staff representatives do not have sufficient access to pay data to make comparisons.

More efficient means are needed to bridge the pay differences between women and men, and pay openness is one of these. Maarianvaara’s excellent work deserves concrete action as a follow-up.

”What I will do is invite a tripartite working group to draft a proposal on legislative amendments required to strengthen pay openness. The term of the working group must be such that the proposals are available to be used at the government formation talks next year. The working group can base its work on Jukka Maarianvaara’s report, but other means may also be considered”, says Minister Saarikko.

Minister Saarikko appointed Maarianvaara to compile the report in April 2018.


The University Women of Europe has filed collective complaints for application of the Social Charter in the 47 countries members of the Council of Europe stating women are not treated equal as they earn structurally less than men for equal work. As an international INGO, UWE is allowed to submit a collective complaint of violation of the European Social Charter. 

More information about this and other useful links here at our page:


UWE Meet and greet 2019 – SAVE THE DATE

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Dear all,

We are pleased to invite you to the next UWE Meet and Greet event in Dundee (City of Discovery) on 17th – 19th May 2019. The University of Dundee and the City Chambers are already confirmed as venues for this event which will be a combination of Discussion, Friendship and Culture
This year, our Conference theme is “My Identity. My Story“. 

Dundee is currently very much on the map with the opening of the new V&A Museum leading renewed showcasing of the city as a whole. Dundee has long been famous for Jam, Jute and Journalism, cities change as do people. Change has inspired our theme: our stories and how these interplay with our many identities, not least as women.

We are looking forward to meeting you, speakers will be announced very soon along with the information about the registration etc. and we hope that a number of you will be able to join us in Scotland next year. 

The Conference is open to all members of the University Women of Europe and their friends.


Anne Negre

University Women of Europe

Fiona Sutherland

Graduate Women Scotland




Nominations for Women of Europe Awards 2018

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We are once again invited by European Women’s Lobby to send nominations for Women of Europe Awards 2018 – deadline 30 September.  The call for nominations has just been launched, all our UWE members can nominate one candidate per category.

Please send us an email to until 28 September, containing following information:


Name of the nominee
Date of birth
Country of residence
Contact details of the nominee (email or phone)
What is the key achievement of the nominee? (max. 100 words)
Relevant links on the project or work of the nominee
Why should the nominee receive the Woman in Power Award? (max. 300 words)


About the Awards

The Women of Europe Awards are organised by the European Movement International and the European Women’s Lobby, building upon the national awards of several National European Movement Councils. The awards are handed out annually to honour women striving to advance the European project in their professional or private capacity. The role of women in the European project remains largely unrecognised, and the awards highlight the contribution of women in promoting and advancing European issues, and to increase the presence and involvement of women in debates about Europe and its future.

Read about last year’s Awards here.

2018 Prize categories:

  • Woman in Power – showing extraordinary political leadership in Europe
  • Woman in Action – undertaking extraordinary actions at grassroots level in Europe
  • Woman in Business – advancing European integration with entrepreneurial spirit
  • Woman in Youth Activism – for women aged 15 to 30 strengthening the voice of young women in Europe (organised in cooperation with the European Youth Forum)


 You must nominate your candidates by 28 SEPTEMBER , the UWE Board will fill the nomination form and send it to European Women’s Lobby until 30 September.

University Women of Europe as member organisation of the European Women’s Lobby is eligible to nominate one candidate for each of the four categories. Nominations by members of member organisations or non-members are ineligible. In case of overlapping memberships, the limit of one nomination per category remains.

Award Gala

The Awards will be handed out in Brussels at the end of November. An exact date will be communicated in the coming weeks.



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Mosul, Iraq. Suhaib Salem/Reuters

New research published by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo’s Global placed Syria the no 1 worst country in the world for women. While the the lowest-ranking countries on the index are historically more unstable and volatile, nordic countries dominate the best countries for women’s list with Denmark on top, according to a ranking by U,S. News & World Report.

The index measures women’s well-being — based on factors such as justice, security, and inclusion . You can explore here Women, Peace and Security Index by country, dimension, story, download report and download data — in 153 countries.





Denmark’s progressive government and societal structure enables its citizens to socially mobilize across multiple arenas; women and men both enjoy access to mostly free medical care, and higher education is also free. Additionally, the country is home to a new intersectional party called Feministisk Initiativ (or F!).


Since the ranking’s inception, Sweden has never finished lower than fifth in the Gender Gap rankings. Nearly two-thirds of all university degrees in Sweden are awarded to women, its policies regarding parental leave are flexible (and expand to spouses), and government-run bodies such as the Secretariat of Gender Research serve only to enshrine the values of equality across all platforms.


Norway earned a perfect score in overall citizenship, and ranks 2nd of 144 countries in the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report. The country has even been called “a haven for gender equality.” Norwegian political parties even introduced voluntary gender quotasway back in the 1970s.


The Netherlands has long been a pioneering country for gender equality; itsemancipation policy of 1978 ensured that parental leave, care, income, power, decision, education, and salaries remained equal between men and women, and in 2011 they instituted their “LGBT and Gender Equality Policy Plan” to legally advocate LGBT and all-inclusive gender equality.


Most Nordic countries are outspoken champions of women’s rights, and Finland is no exception: the country ranked 3rd of 144 countries in the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, its parental leave policies are exemplary, and its Act on Equality between Women and Men literally exists to sanctify the basic tenants of equality between all genders in every aspect of life.


Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 2018 federal spending plan — which is entitled “Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class” — aims to empower women and invest in them as essential proponents in the country’s work force.


Switzerland holds the number one ranking on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Countries list, and outstrips many countries in terms of trustworthiness, environmentalism, human rights, education, public health, and economic stability.


Not only did Australia make important progress when the country legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, the country also boasts a high life expectancy for both women and men.


In 1893, became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women legally had the right to vote in parliamentary elections — now, 2018 is a historical year for New Zealand as it marks the country’s 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.


Germany nabbed a perfect score in entrepreneurship, and Angela Merkel currently serves as the country’s first woman chancellor — she’s been in office since 2005.




Since March 2011, Syria has been engulfed in what has been referred to as “the worst humanitarian disaster of our time.” Rape and torture in secret prisons, malnutrition, andgender-based violence is reportedly an everyday reality.

“Gender-based violence continues to undermine the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims in Syria,” said Panos Moumtzis, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator (RHC) for the Syria Crisis. “It’s imperative we do more.”


According to a Human Right’s Watch report, only 37% of Afghan women are literate, a third of girls are married before they turn 18 (and sometimes forced out of education), the country’s maternal mortality rate is high, and women’s civil liberties are overall restricted.


According to the United Nations Population Fund, approximately 2.6 million women and girls in Yemen are at risk of gender-based violence, with 52,000 women at risk of sexual violence, including rape. According to World Report 2017, women in Yemen do not have equal rights to divorce, inheritance, or child custody as men in Yemen.


Violence against women and girls remains a serious concern in Pakistan, with offenses like child marriage, rape, murder “honor killings,” acid attacks, and domestic violence reportedly remaining prevalent.


The CAR has been embroiled in violent armed conflict since 2013, and instances of violence against women, including rape, have been reported by the UN. “Numerous cases of violence against women, in particular sexual abuse and rape, have been reported in all of the localities that Seleka combatants have passed through,” the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, reported in 2013.


Congo has the potential to be one of Africa’s richest nations, due to its wealth in natural resources— however, it remains one of the world’s least developed countries, with at least 7.5 million in dire need of humanitarian assistance: nine out of ten people in DRC need urgent humanitarian aid. In 2010, a UN representative referred to Congo as the “rape capital of the world,” and another study alleged that 48 women are raped there every hour.


A 2010 United Nations fact sheet stated that one in five Iraqi women were subject to domestic violence, and a 2012 Ministry of Planning study found that at least 36% of married Iraqi women have experienced some form of abuse at the hands of their husbands.


According to a list compiled by ONE campaign, less than half (38%) of girls in Mali have completed primary school. Only 9% of women have parliamentary roles (a bleak figure compared to Rwanda, which has 64%), and 72% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.


According to a profile from UNICEF, 34% of women aged 15 to 49 in Sudan believe that a husband/partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstance, and that 34% of women aged 20 to 24 were married or in a union by the time they were 18.


Only 17% of women in the world poorest country Niger aged 15 to 24 are literate, according to a list compiled by ONE campaign (a non-profit aiming to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease). Additionally, Save the Children released a 2016 report of the best and worst places for girls based on five indicators, which included child marriage and adolescent fertility rates, and Niger, where 76% of young women were reportedly married before they were 18, and one in five adolescent girls gave birth a year on average, scored the last place in a list of 144 countries.










Opportunity for young people to attend the Austrian EU Presidency gender equality conference – apply by 12 August

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The Austrian EU Presidency is organising a conference of gender equality ministers on 11 and 12 October 2018 in Vienna on the topic of gender and youth. This summer, they launched a call for application for young people aged 16 to 30 to attend the conference. The Austrian Presidency and the European Commission are funding travel and accommodation costs for up to two young people per EU Member State. It would be great if you could please share this opportunity with your networks as soon as possible. Interested candidates need to complete an application through the database of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) by 12 August :

Please spread the news about this opportunity with all your networks of young feminists.


About the conference

Hosted by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union together with the Austrian National Youth Council & the European Youth Forum, the conference ‘Gender Equality and YOU’ aims at inspiring a positive, open and future-oriented dialogue about gender equality.

The conference will provide a space for exchange and discussion at eye-level among young people, youth representatives, ministers, representatives from NGOs and public administration, international and EU bodies:

  • Discussing young persons’ visions for the future of gender equality in their countries and in the EU
  • Exploring perceptions and experiences between persons from different generations and Member States
  • Identifying needs for change to strengthen gender equality

The eligibility criteria for a financed participation are:

  • resident of an EU member state
  • having a strong interest in the topic of gender equality
  • able to work in English
  • aged between 16-30 years

More information is available here:

Application to be completed through the database of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) by 12 August :