Today the committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament adopted an important opinion on a report on "Empowering girls through education" (the main committee responsible is the committee on Gender Equality and Women's Rights - FEMM). As shadow rapporteur for the Socialists and Democrats, Julie put forward a number of amendments including a very important statement recognising the importance of sexual education.
Given the political composition of the committee which tends towards conservative views about the family, sexual identity and sex education. there was a risk that the amendment would be rejected, however the amendment finally passed by 1 vote, which means the report now goes forward for adoption in the FEMM Committee.
The amendment stressed, "the importance of health and sexuality education which must include teaching boys and girls about relationships based on gender equality, consent, respect and reciprocity, as well as teaching about women’s and girls’ rights, including reproductive and sexual health and rights, as a means to prevent stereotypes and violence against women and girls".
Julie says, "Having worked with young people, many of whom have been at risk of being either victims or perpetrators of violence, I believe that education is the most powerful tool we have to make the systemic changes required in society to eradicate violence against women and girls. Recognising that this issue crosses the gender divide is important as we cannot fix the problem if we work in silo's."
The opinion also promotes the prevention of gender stereotypes in education, notably in relation to career choices, and highlights the importance of girls' participation in science, engineering, technology, rural industries, ICT and creative industries. Overall the opinion reaffirms the need for a rights-based and gender-learning environment for all learners, including children with special needs and disadvantaged children.
Read the opinion here.