AFTER ‘SOFAGATE,’ EU CHIEF TALKS OF DISCRIMINATION VS WOMEN
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a plea for women's equality and described some of the difficulties she has experienced during her career in comments to the European Parliament on Monday, Verena Schmitt-Roschmann reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa.)
Her comments came three weeks after a meeting of EU leaders with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara in an incident that has been dubbed "sofagate." Erdogan hosted EU Council President Charles Michel and von der Leyen, but as only two chairs were provided, she was left without a seat, and had to sit on a nearby sofa.
Von der Leyen said that because she was a woman, she had not been treated in accordance with her status as president of the European Commission. "I felt hurt and left alone, as a woman and as a European," von der Leyen said.
"This shows how far we still have to go before women are treated as equals."
She said she felt privileged as she was able to fight back, unlike millions of women who cannot.
Thousands of far more serious incidents go unobserved every day, von der Leyen said.
The Istanbul Convention on the Protection of Women is an important tool to ensure such stories do not go untold, she said, adding that Turkey's withdrawal is a "terrible signal."
It is also unacceptable that some EU states had not yet ratified the treaty, she said, while others were considering pulling out.
"Violence against women and children is a crime, we must call it a crime," she said.
Addressing Turkey, she said respect for women's rights is an important prerequisite for resuming dialogue and expanding joint programs.