Brussels, 7 March 2014
A lot has been achieved over the years for women's rights and gender equality, but, on this occasion of International Women's Day, we are reminded that much remains to be done.
The European Commission can be proud of its efforts in promoting genuine equality.
I hope that the next Commission will continue to build on our efforts to boost the decision-making role of women in all walks of life, from politics to sport.
But if we want more women in top jobs, we must also recognise that gender equality starts at home and in school.
We must also work together with Member States, the police and other services to address the appalling extent of abuse suffered by women and girls.
I was shocked to read the latest survey results from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, showing that 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15 and 43% have experienced psychological violence.
Addressing what is happening to girls and women, whether at home, in school, at work or online through cyber-harassment, should be a top priority for all levels of government.
But we also need to give women more positive role models, which is why the Commission must continue to encourage the public and private sectors to smash the glass ceiling, wherever it exists.
In some EU countries, including my own, too few women are given the opportunity to take up decision-making roles. We have to change that and confront out-dated attitudes.
It is only by conquering hostility to genuine gender equality that women's rights will truly come of age.