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What in the future?

A European and misogynistic constitutional treaty which usurps women's conquests

Sonia Mitralias (Greek coordination of the Women's World March and of the Greek Social Forum)

It is undeniable that under the pressure of the feminist movements and their struggles, the protection of women rights could appear in numerous international and European treaties. Significant progresses – though always insufficient – of the last decade are now being reappraised, even worse, they are erased by the neoliberal constitutional treaty improperly presented as a « European Constitution ».

It is no accident that this treaty frontally attacks the most fundamental rights, equality between men and women which is not included in its « values » but only in its « objectives ». It is no little difference! Beyond the value highly symbolic of this « omission », there are practical consequences that are tantamount to a categorical refusal to implement means (legislative, administrative, cultural) with a view to achieving this equality in all the fields of social life (employment, work, income, etc.).

Is that a mere omission or a fully conscious act of the initiators of this treaty? Given that a great number of feminist associations had asked in vain for the inclusion of the principle of gender equality in the « values » of the constitutional treaty and that so did the very official « working group on Social Europe » at the beginning of 2004, it is clear that the members of the European Convention decided to devaluate, even to erase knowingly and intentionally this principal.

These refusals of the Constitutional Treaty

to promote in practice the gender equality contradict though the disposition of a series of conventions and of international and community treaties that represent a step backwards to several decades of women's condition. Useless to say that after the introduction of this constitutional treaty, inequalities still scandalous between women and men will have a tendency to last and also to get worse because:

  • The treaty will prevail over national Constitutions and former Community Treaties which planned specific practises for women.
  • The Constitutional Treaty is not committed at all to such actions and concrete measures.

As a conclusion, even if the Constitutional Treaty finally incorporates the Nice Charter of Fundamental Rights, gender equality will remain a vague and ineffective « objective » of EU for the text is very limited and remains below the community patrimony when it comes to the promotion of positive actions for this elementary right.

The contempt of the members of the convention for women also manifests itself when it comes to face the blight of men’s violence they suffer daily only because they are... women. Then, it is no accident that the Constitutional Treaty do not include among EU objectives the prevention and the fight against the violence suffered by women. It is here a serious step back for a certain number of guidelines of EU institutional bodies used to refer to « physical, sexual and psychological violence » against women, considering it as a form of discrimination suffered only because women are women.

This « forgetting » becomes even more serious given the fact that the right in EU only deals with the question of violence in the frame of its dispositions about « trafficking in human beings », ignoring on the other hand any other expression of violence. Besides, even though « trafficking in human beings » (which though remains out of these objectives) is mentioned in the article 17 of the Constitutional Treaty among the crimes that should be fought thanks to the harmonization of criminal laws; this article says nothing about violence against women, about racism or xenophobia! Such « forgetting » is too eloquent so as not to reveal the will of the neoliberal initiators of the Treaty to launch full-scale attacks against the rights and liberties most of European citizens gained. This very, very misogynist Constitutional Treaty celebrates the united front of neoliberalism and patriarchy...