Report from International Officer

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 11:49 AM

PESWomen

Greetings to all Labour Women members, supporters and occasional dippers-into our world.  I've been the Labour Women International Representative for the last 4 years; this normally involves attending meetings of the Party of European Socialist Women (PESW) every quarter, usually in Brussels. However, when Ireland held the Presidency of EU earlier on in the year, we in LW (Labour Women) hosted about 25 PES Women colleagues from all over Europe over three days.

This was our contribution to the Presidency and was a great success on a political, networking and social level (despite the truly awful weather). Earlier this month I travelled to Brussels for a PESW meeting and I’d like to share a few jottings from that trip.

Get up at 3 am for the Aircoach, way too early.  As usual, I’m surprised to find so many on the coach; I always think I'm the only person up at that time of the night. Pandemonium at Dublin Airport, with loads of school tour groups and teachers checking lists (and 'nonchalant' parents trying not to look how they feel inside..........I have been there) Brussels flight packed. A few politicians on board. Misty morning when we arrive. Go straight to our PESW meeting at HQ in Rue de Trone.

About 25 of us in all (the average number; although none of the Scandinavians were there) The topic du jour is the gender pay gap throughout the member states. It doesn't sound that exciting, but the women here have interesting contributions, as usual. An impromptu discussion on prostitution becomes quite intense, especially between two reps of different countries, but remains civilised at all times.  Those of us who are free go with Zita (Zita Gurmai, MEP, our PESW Chair) to the Parliament to watch "Threshold of the Desert", a movie about women's empowerment in the Arab world.  We were accompanied by Najat Aziz, the 'star' of the film. It's was a touching and uplifting experience, both to meet her and see her on the big screen.

I'm staying overnight in Brussels, as it's actually cheaper than going back on the same evening. It's absolutely beautiful weather, about 22 degrees, over the two days. Brussels is an interesting and stylish city, and I hope I have a bit more time to explore it properly one of these days. I have great rapport with my PESW colleagues over the last few years, and they in turn have a lot of good will towards us in Labour Women in Ireland.  I hope to build on that further at our encounters over the next year. 

Angela Timlins - International Officer

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