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'Tech is too important to be left to men!'

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imagesEurope's digital economy and app sector are booming, but where are the women?

Facts about women in the digital economy:

  • Only 9 in 100 European app developers are female.
  • Only 19% of ICT managers are women (45% women in other service sectors).
  • Only 19% of ICT entrepreneurs are women (54% women in other service sectors) Less than 30% of the ICT workforce is female.
  • Number of female computing graduate is dropping (3% of female graduates compared to 10% of male graduates).

European Commission Vice-President @NeelieKroesEU said: "Tech is too important to be left to men alone! Every week I meet more and more inspiring women in tech. ICT is no longer for the geeky few – it is cool, and it is the future! Only 9% of app developers are women? Come on! Give coding a try, see how fun it can be! We wanted to provide a platform for women to tell their stories about getting ahead in tech. And there are so many success stories out there – so please share yours and help us to inspire the next generation!”

Join the campaign: Check out this collection of videos at ICTLadies. You can make your own video with your story about life in the digital sector. Share your video to the Every Girl Digital Facebook page.

The European Commission launches today a campaign to find and celebrate role models to encourage young women and girls to study and pursue careers in ICT. The Commission is inviting women (and men!) to create a video and share their own digital success story to inspire girls and women to think about tech. Women can have great careers in technology, as testified by the inspirational women who kick off the campaign:

Monique Morrow@mjmorrow, from Switzerland, says IT is a path she never thought she would take. But her ability to solve problems got her into the field; since then, IT has taken her across the world, across many domains, offered her many interesting experiences, she really enjoys it and thinks it's fun;

Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, @WomensW4, from France, works in ICT for development. She talks about a transformative power of ICTs as catalysts for women empowerment and how connecting Bangladesh to the digital era brought her to what she is doing now. Her advice for girls? "Do IT, do IT, do IT"!

Sofia Svanteson@sofiasvanteson, from Sweden, advises young women considering a career in tech to keep an open mind about what technology can be used for. She thinks that progress in tech cannot be for the sake of technology itself; when something is user-friendly and meaningful, that's when it can change peoples' lives for the better. Sofia finds it amazing to be part of this process.

Also sharing their stories are Eva Berneke, from Denmark, Anneke Burger, from The Netherlands, and Naomi Shah, from the United States. Find more inspiring stories here.

Background

This campaign builds on a Commission study on women in the ICT sector, which found that the best way to get more women into tech jobs is by giving visibility to inspiring tech professionals, thus turning them into role models. Identifying career paths to inspire can also help women already working in technology stay in the sector throughout their career.

Attracting more women to tech careers is an economic imperative. If women held digital jobs as frequently as men, the European GDP could be boosted annually by around €9 billion (1.3 times Malta's GDP), according to the study. Organisations which are more inclusive of women in management achieve a 35% higher Return on Equity and 34% better total return to shareholders than other comparable organisations.

Women are also particularly underrepresented in managerial and decision-making positions. Although this is a general problem, the percentage of female bosses in ICT is much smaller than in other sectors: 19.2% of ICT sector workers compared to 45.2% of non-ICT sector workers have female bosses.

Women entrepreneurs in the ICT sector earn 6% more than women non-entrepreneurs in the same sector. Women entrepreneurs in the ICT sector are more satisfied with their jobs, have a stronger feeling of a job well-done and earn more than women employees non-entrepreneurs in the ICT sector. On the negative side, however, they report a higher stress level.

To compound the problem, women leave the sector mid-career ('leaky pipeline' phenomenon) to a greater extent than men. Indeed, 20% of women aged 30 years with ICT-related bachelor degrees work in the sector, whilst only 9% of women above 45 years old with these degrees do so.

Meanwhile, employers report they have trouble finding ICT professionals and Europe could soon face a shortage of up to 900 000 ICT workers – potentially missing an opportunity to fight massive unemployment and risking its digital competitiveness.

Economy

Global Europe: €79.5 billion to support development

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The EU is set to invest €79.5 billion on development and international cooperation in neighbouring countries and further afield by 2027, Society.

As part of its 2021-2027 budget, the European Union is overhauling how it invests outside the bloc. Following a landmark deal with EU countries in December 2020, MEPs will vote during June's plenary session in Strasbourg on establishing the €79.5bn Global Europe fund, which merges several existing EU instruments, including the European Development Fund. This streamlining will allow the EU to more effectively uphold and promote its values and interests worldwide and respond more swiftly to emerging global challenges.

The instrument will finance the EU's foreign policy priorities in the coming seven years and support sustainable development in EU neighbourhood countries, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Global Europe will support projects that contribute to addressing issues such as poverty eradication and migration and promote EU values such as human rights and democracy.

The programme will also support global multilateral efforts and ensure the EU is able to live up to its commitments in the world, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate accord. Thirty percent of the programme’s overall funding will contribute to achieving climate objectives.

At least €19.3bn is earmarked for EU neighbourhood countries with €29.2bn set to be invested in sub-Saharan Africa. Global Europe funding will also be set aside for rapid response action including crisis management and conflict prevention. The EU will boost its support to sustainable investment worldwide under the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus, which will leverage private capital to complement direct development assistance.

In negotiations with the Council, Parliament ensured MEPs’ increased involvement in strategic decisions regarding the programme. Once approved, the regulation on Global Europe will retroactively apply from 1 January 2021.

Global Europe is one of 15 EU flagship programmes supported by the Parliament in the negotiations on the EU's budget for 2021-2027 and the EU recovery instrument, which collectively will allow the Union to provide more than €1.8 trillion in funding over the coming years.

Global Europe 

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Belarus

#FreeRomanProtasevich: EU calls for release of Belarus journalist

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Join the call for the release of Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega, who are being held by Belarus authorities. Find out how you can help. Belarus journalist Protasevich and his girlfriend Sapega were on a flight from Athens to Vilnius on 23 May when the Belarusian government forced the plane to redirect to Minsk where they were detained. Society

The move was immediately met with widespread condemnation from all around the world and led to calls for sanctions against the country.

Parliament President David Sassoli said: “The events in Belarus, with the hijacking of a civil plane to arrest opponents of the regime, require a leap forward in our response in both strength and speed.”

Parliament and other EU institutions are calling for the immediate release of Protasevich and urge everyone to speak up about this blatant breach of fundamental rights.

What you could do to help get Roman Protasevich released

The abuse of human rights can only thrive in silence. Help create a noise by speaking up for Protasevic and Sapega who are currently being silenced and detained.

What you could do online:

  • Use the hashtag #FreeRomanProtasevich and #FreeSofiaSapega on Twitter and other platforms
  • Help us to spread the message by sharing this article and our posts on social media, such as our tweet

You could come up with your own ways to protest. For example, President Sassoli suggested using airports to highlight the cause: “I think it would be a very positive gesture if a photo of Roman Protasevich were to be displayed in the main airports of European Union member states, as a mark of solidarity and to show that we will not fail him.”

What the EU is doing in response to the actions by Belarus

EU leaders met a day after the forced redirection of the Ryanair flight to decide on a common response. President Sassoli opened the summit with a call for action: “Our response must be strong, immediate and unified. The European Union must act without hesitation and punish those responsible. Tonight you have a great responsibility to show that the Union is not a paper tiger.”

EU leaders agreed to ban Belarusian planes from flying in EU airspaces or using EU airports. They also called for the release of Protasevich and Sapega as well as an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization. They also agreed targeted economic sanctions and to add to the list of people subject to sanctions.

What the European Parliament has called for regarding Belarus

Parliament’s foreign affairs committee discussed the events in Belarus on 26 May with opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She told MEPs: "I call on the European Parliament to ensure that the reaction of the international community is not limited to the Ryanair flight incident. The response must address the situation in Belarus in its entirety."

Parliament has regularly called for fair elections in Belarus as well as for respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Last year alone, MEPs called for:

In 2020, MEPs awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition in Belarus.

Read more about the EU’s links with other countries

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EU

Companies should be held accountable for their actions, say MEPs

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MEPs want a new EU law to ensure companies are held accountable when their actions harm people and the planet. On 8 March MEPs debated a report by the legal affairs committee on corporate accountability. The report calls on the European Commission to come up with a law obliging EU companies to address aspects of their value chains that could affect human rights (including social, trade union and labour rights), the environment (for example contribution to climate change) and good governance.

Doing the right thing does not give businesses a competitive advantage at the moment. The lack of a joint EU-wide approach on this matter could lead to a disadvantage for those companies that are proactive regarding social and environmental matters, the report said. The rules would apply to all large undertakings in the EU, as well as to publicly listed small and medium-sized enterprises and those that for example share "risky" supply chains with larger companies.

However, MEPs say the binding rules should also go beyond the EU’s borders, meaning that all companies that want to access the EU's internal market, including those established outside the EU, would have to prove that they comply with due diligence obligations related to human rights and the environment.

In addition, the MEPs want the rights of stakeholders or victims in non-EU countries, who are particularly vulnerable, to be better protected. They likewise want a ban on importing products linked to severe human rights violations such as forced or child labour.

“The European Parliament has the chance this week to become a leader in responsible business conduct,” said report author Lara Wolters (S&D, the Netherlands) during the debate.

“For businesses, we’re creating a level playing field and legal clarity. For consumers, we’re ensuring fair products. For workers, we’re enhancing protection. For victims, we’re improving access to justice. And for the environment, we’re taking a step that is very long overdue.”

In February 2020, the Commission published a study which found that only one in three companies in the EU is currently taking some form of due diligence measures while 70% of European businesses support EU-wide due diligence rules.

Read more on how the EU trade policy helps to promote human rights and environmental standards.

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