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Discrimination against women must not go unchallenged - Mary Lou McDonald

4 February, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that she is committed to challenging inequality against women within the European Union.

Ms McDonald also said that she "will await with interest" plans to tackle gender inequality within the EU. According to an EU Commission report women face a 15% pay gap in relation to their male counterparts.

Ms McDonald made her comments after EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla pledged to unveil the plans next week in a new EU Social Agenda for 2006 - 2010.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"I would welcome any initiatives put forward at national or European level which seek to improve conditions for women within society. The EU Commission report that women are paid 15% less than men is an absolute disgrace and reinforces the reality that women are discriminated against in employment.

"However, it is clear that women are discriminated against within wider society also. Households headed by lone parents and by older women remain at high risk of poverty and structural inequalities continue to trap many women in low paid, part-time employment.

"One of the initiatives mooted is a European Gender Institute - responsible for guarding the implementation of EU laws on equality between men and women. Sinn Féin will judge any such proposal on the basis of its scope, limitations and ability to seriously address this issue.

"At a minimum, Sinn Féin is demanding equal pay for women. On a broader level, we are calling for measures which ensure women are not discriminated against on the basis of their gender. Both myself and my colleague Bairbre de Brún MEP will continue to challenge discriminatory attitudes to women both inside and outside the European Parliament. Gender equality remains a priority for Sinn Féin." ENDS

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