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Women Political Leaders Summit - Opening Speech

Distinguished Presidents,

Esteemed guests,

Dear colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to our Parliament for this summit organised jointly by the Senate and the Women Political Leaders. Ten years ago, this international network of women politicians was founded in Brussels. This anniversary is also an opportunity for us to assess the situation of women in politics.

Over the last ten years, the number of women active in politics has risen steadily. And the Belgian Parliament is currently setting an example: the proportion of women in the Chamber has risen from 12% in 1995 to just over 40% in 2019, compared with a world average of 25%. Of course, women becoming increasingly involved in politics is not enough for the status of all women to change. That's why our Assembly's Advisory Committee on Social Emancipation is working across the board to improve women's everyday lives. The members of this committee have drawn up resolutions on domestic violence, female entrepreneurship, and single mothers.

The political landscape is gradually moving towards greater equality. Women now occupy positions traditionally reserved for men. We don't need to look very far to find examples. For the first time in its history, our country has two women presiding over a bicameral parliament. This is the case in only 3 other countries in the world: Argentina, the Bahamas and Belize. Similarly, the current Belgian federal government has appointed women to head two ministries that had previously been held by men exclusively: Defence and Foreign Affairs. Our government is also made up of equal numbers of men and women. This is a major premiere for our country and demonstrates our determination to make it a permanent feature in the future.  

Despite all these advances, the glass ceiling is still a reality.

Today, our discussions will focus on possible solutions. In particular, the many studies on women's representation have identified the lack of women's networks as an obstacle to greater representation of women in assemblies. It is clear that an individual's social network plays a key role in a career path.

A network such as Women Political Leaders strengthens the place and role of women in parliaments, promotes experience exchanges, and encourages solidarity between women. I'm sure that belonging to a network also creates an alliance between its members, uniting them closely and offering them invaluable opportunities to thrive in the position they occupy.

Distinguished Presidents,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to thank the organisers of this summit for their initiative and for the gathering, which I hope will be rich in ideas, food for thought, and debate. I hope that our discussions will give rise to innovative and relevant projects to improve the lives of women and build a more balanced society that respects gender issues.

Thank you for your attention.


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