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BeNeLux: „It is necessary to raise the question“

(17.08.2015) Initiated by the German Women Lawyers Association (djb), the project “European Women Shareholders Demand Gender Equality” was awarded a grant in 2014 by the European Commission (together with 16 other European projects) under the PROGRESS program. It is co-funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), the Ministry for Justice and Equality of Saxony-Anhalt and the Finland Chamber of Commerce.

The project partners include, along with the djb, the four women lawyers organizations, Euro-pean Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), EWLA Bulgaria, Association Française des femmes juristes, (AFFJ), Hungarian Women (Advocate) Lawyers Association, the Finland Chamber of Commerce and the University of West of England. The Ministry for Justice and Gender Equality of Saxony-Anhalt is hosting the closure event and the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences is responsible for evaluation.

BeNeLux takes part in the EWSDGE project. We visited the AGMs of ASML Holding (the Netherlands), Unilever (the Netherlands), AB InBev (Belgium), Arcelor Mital (Luxemburg), Philips (the Netherlands) and unfortunately it was impossible, due to the refusal of ING Group, to attend also the AGM of this group in the Netherlands. We have put forward our questions that we agreed on for 11 member states. We have to say that in most of the cases reactions were positive and complete and it was astonishing to see that some companies had more difficulties to give in time the complete information and that others were really very open and even positively reacting towards our project.

“But it is necessary to raise the question, whether women are to find in decision making positions,“ states Myriam Van Varenbergh, the BeNeLux coordinator of the EWSDGE project. „Gender balanced participation is a fundamental right that has to be implemented. And it’s still astonishing that most of the companies know exactly the obligations and are trying to do their outmost best to only realize the legal obligations at the last day, what means that in some cases 2017 or 2019, and only starting now to set up some programs or some procedures to attend the quota imposed by European or national legislation.”

We hope that with this project companies, shareholders and stakeholders will be aware of the importance of gender balance in all levels of all sorts of companies, listed companies included.

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