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To All Feminists -
Women and Men



Gudrun Schyman

TFF associate


June 5, 2004

In June 2004 elections will be held in 25 countries to renew the European Parliament. We invite support for this call to challenge patriarchal power structures in Europe.

The European Union today is characterized by a strongly hierarchical organisation. Its system of political representation is lacking in legitimacy since so few participate in elections. The gap between those elected and their voters is manifest. A predominantly male political elite currently rules the Union.

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Economic policies that enjoy close to constitutional status advocate privatisation and the selling &endash;off of social rights and welfare, policies which make it more difficult for women to combine paid work with parenthood and exclude men from sharing care responsibilities in society and in bringing up children. When cut backs reduce public responsibility for welfare, women are the ones who step in to do the job.

The explicit demand for increased military investments will steal money from social investments and welfare reforms. The patriarchal notion that men must defend women and children by military means is still today fundamental to security thinking within the European Union.

The emerging European state bears the hallmark of consistent patriarchal thinking. This we cannot accept!

In member countries

-women still carry the main responsibility for care in health and social sectors

- men's violence against women is growing

- trading women for sexual purposes(trafficking) is expanding dramatically.

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Women have for decades been marching for gender equality and human rights. Year after year their demands are repeated without any decisive change taking place. Quite the opposite &endash; in some areas we are loosing ground.

Insecurity in the labour market and in family relationships is growing. Many involved people have of course achieved a good deal, but &endash;IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

The patriarchal power structures must be broken down, within individual member states as well as within the governing bodies of the Union itself. If democracy is to be strengthened it is necessary to include all citizens, women as well as men.

We therefore call for

- the interruption of the work to finalise the Constitution so that the proposal can be subjected to democratic scrutiny in every country (In Sweden we are demanding a referendum).

- the withdrawal from the proposal of the directives in chapter III on promoting competition and privatisation of welfare services within the Common Market

-that care and welfare issues be developed in a new balanced system, in contrast to the current market system,

- that quota based systems of representation with an equal number of women and men be introduced at all levels of decision making.

We therefore urge all women and men to refuse to support policies shaped by patriarchal thinking and doing. We will support only those candidates

- who clearly show their intentions of changing patriarchal power politics in the EU

- who wish to prevent the deregulation and the privatisation of the welfare sector

- who intend to work seriously to prevent men's violence towards women and who give priority to peaceful, non-patriarchal solutions to conflicts, in homes, in the labour market and over international issues at the negotiating table.

© TFF & the author 2004  



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