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As the world marks the International Women’s Day, the European Union (EU) has canvassed the equality of men and women around the world.

The EU’s position was contained in a statement jointly signed in Brussels and made available to newsmen in Abuja, by the Delegation of the EU to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Signatories to the statement were EU’s First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans; EU High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini; Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Commissioner/Vice-President of the Commission, Jyrki Katainen; and EU Budget and Human Resources Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger.

Others were European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner, Johannes Hahn; EU International Cooperation and Development Commissioner, Neven Mimica; EU Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos; Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Commissioner, Marianne Thyssen; and EU Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici.

Also signatories to the statement are EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner, Christos Stylianides; Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc; Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Commissioner, Vera Jourová; Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Commissioner, Tibor Navracsics; Regional Policy Commissioner, Corina Crețu; Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner, Carlos Moedas and Digital Economy and Society Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel.

The statement read: “Equality between women and men is one of the fundamental values of the European Union enshrined in our treaties. Our Union is a pioneer in tackling gender-based discrimination and we can be proud of the progress achieved: Europe is one of the safest and most equal places for women in the world.

“But our work is not over – the path to full equality in practice is still a long one. Women and girls still face harassment, abuse and violence. And women are still too often prevented from breaking the glass ceiling, receiving lower pay and fewer opportunities for career and business development.

“We want girls and women to achieve equality in all aspects of life: access to education, equal pay for equal work, access to top positions in companies and politics as well as protection from violence,” the EU said.

While saying that advancing women’s leadership and economic empowerment is an absolute priority for the EU, the Union further said it has put forward new legislation to improve work-life balance for working parents and caregivers, and an action plan to close the gender pay gap.

“And we are making sure that we lead by example: in February 2018, the number of women in managerial positions in the European Commission reached 36 percent, up from 11 percent when we took office in November 2014. President Juncker has committed to reaching 40 percent by 31st October, 2019, at the end of our mandate.

“We are also consistent in all aspects of all our policies, both inside the EU and in our external action by promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“Our policy contributes to the successful global implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

“This year’s European Development Days will focus on the vital role of women and girls in sustainable development, their equal participation and leadership in all walks of life.

“In addition, this year, the EU has the leadership of the “Call to Action for Protection Against Gender-Based Violence,” which brings together, over 60 countries and organisations striving to ensure that gender-based violence is addressed in humanitarian crises.

“The European Union assists women and girls across the world who are on the move or displaced, who are victims of violence, such as through the spotlight initiative, or who are excluded from education, equal access to health and family planning services, the labour market, and political life more generally.

“Over 15 million girls of primary school age do not go to school around the world, so the EU is helping boost access to education from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, to South East Asia.

“Gender equality is not just about fairness and justice in Europe – it is also a necessity to achieve sustainable peace, security, development, economic prosperity and growth around the world.

“Investing in the potential of women and girls is an investment in our whole society and is the responsibility of men and boys as much as women and girls,” the EU said.

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