Supporting Change Through Advocating More Power to Women: Gender Equality and Development
Professor S. Ebadi inaugurated the panel by presenting a keynote speech. She noted that while women are better off in Europe than in developing countries, in many European countries they are still being paid less than men for the same work. This is also a form of discrimination, albeit different from that in Muslim countries. In these countries, women do not possess social or political positions, their human rights are not respected, and they are discriminated through inheritance laws; polygamy also remains a problem. The position of women in Muslim countries is not a product of religion, but of a patriarchal culture which does not accept the principle of equality of human beings. Less developed democracies mean worse conditions for women. Female education is a way of improving the situation of women.
C. Sánchez presented the World Bank Report on Gender Equality, emphasizing the role of education and social movements in strengthening the role of women.
J.-L. Ville analysed the EC draft report based on data provided by Member States. He underscored that GEWE covers not just development goals, but also human rights and social justice issues. The presence of women in politics should be advocated on the EU level and attention should be given to gender equality in dialogue with partner countries; existing instruments should also be better utilized and the intellectual role of the EU in the field of gender equality should be supported.
F. Arthur emphasized that Norway is one of the promoters of gender equality, adding that gender education is not only about women. He informed participants of establishing UN Women, with a branch office in Brussels.
The discussion also highlighted the role of the media in promoting gender equality. Gender issues should be part of a global solution, and not function as a separate topic.
 Organizer: World Bank Group and European Commission Panellists: Frederik Artur (Ambassador for Gender Equality, MFA Norway), Prof. Shirin Ebadi (2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Carolina Sánchez (World Bank), Jean-Louis Ville (DG DEVCO). Moderator: Sandor Sipos from the World Bank Group.