Inspiring Thursday: Helena Dalli

Today marks the day of the Gender Equality Index 2021 conference, an online event during which the European Institute for Gender Equality will reveal how the European Union has scored on gender equality this year. Not only will the findings be presented, but there will also be a discussion between decision-makers and experts on how the EU can improve in certain topic areas. One of the speakers will be Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality since 2019. This week, let’s find out more about this inspiring woman, her pathway to Brussels, and what she does for gender equality. 

Helena Dalli is a Maltese politician who has held several political roles throughout her time in parliament – Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, opposition Shadow Minister for public administration, equality, public broadcasting and national investments and Parliamentary Secretary for Women’s Rights in the Office of Prime Minister. 

As European Commissioner for Equality, Dalli is tasked with a number of objectives to be reached within her five-year term. Taking the lead on the EU’s implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability is one of those, as is the development of a new European Gender Strategy. Another important part of Dalli’s mandate is to ensure that the EU cracks down on violence against women. There must be better support for survivors across the EU, regardless of which country they live in, and Dalli will also be expected to propose that violence against women should be added to the list of EU crimes. All in all, the empowerment of women and girls and the prevention of discrimination is at the forefront of Dalli’s work, and it is something she is deeply passionate about. She therefore deems it ‘truly regrettable’ that not all EU Member States are yet party to the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty that facilitates the implementation of policies and measures across the EU to combat violence against women. Prevention of violence, protection of survivors and prosecution of perpetrators are the key tenets of the Convention, which has so far already achieved a lot, bringing together Member States to share good practices and support practical implementation. 

“Gender equality is not only a policy concept, it is a fundamental right. I will continue to strive for all women and girls to fully enjoy that right and live a fulfilling life; one during which they can lead, thrive and be free.“ – Helena Dalli

While Dalli acknowledges that there has been significant progress in women’s rights in the last decades, she sees that still today, there is a belief that men are superior to women – a belief that fuels violence against women. In order to change this, it is crucial to educate girls and boys at a young age about gender equality and non-violent relationships. This way, it can be possible to change stereotypical gender norms and work towards a society free of violence against women, which so negatively affects women’s well-being and participation in society. 

“Making our European societies and homes safe for women is every citizen’s responsibility.“ – Helena Dalli

Tune in to the online Gender Equality Index 2021 conference today to learn more about gender (in)equality in the EU, to listen to Helena Dalli give a speech and to learn in which ways further progress is possible. 

Written by WAVE Intern India Stotesbury

Our last Inspiring Thursday: Natalia Gavrilița

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