Romanian minister: Qualifications are women’s ‘best tool’

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Education must provide women with the right qualifications to compete with men, but they also need to be more confident in promoting their values to change mentalities in male-dominated society, said Romanian Transport Minister Anca Boagiu in an interview with EURACTIV.

Anca Boagiu is a trained engineer and has been a member of the Romanian parliament and senate for the Democratic Liberal Party. She first served as minister of transport in 2000 before taking on the post of minister for European integration from 2005-2007. Her second stint as transport minister began in 2010.

Boagiu was speaking to EURACTIV Managing Editor Daniela Vincenti-Mitchener.

2011 is the 100th anniversary of Women's Day. Women have come a long way in recent decades. Would you say, as a woman who has reached a top position in the Romanian government, that we have finally made it?

I would say 'yes'. Even if it was a long way and a tough way. But looking at the Romanian government we can see that women here have succeeded in politics.

There is surely a lot more to be done, but today we have women in the Chamber of Deputies, women elected as senators and deputies in the parliament. The conclusion is that women have succeeded in Romanian politics.

What about in the private sector? Would you say that women have succeeded there too?

It is more difficult in the private sector, but there is still a lot of space for women. I trust very much that women will get more power in the private sector.

I would say that we should not be more aggressive, but much more confident in what women mean in society, including the private sector. Because if we look to the performance of the companies which are led by women, we can say that they are really successful.

More successful than those led only by men?

Sometimes yes, you can say 'yes'.

Are you aware of the fact that the European Commission is making the case for business to increase the number of women in boardrooms by setting up quotas? Would you welcome such an initiative?

The temptation is to say 'yes', but I don't think that a quota would solve the problem of women's representation in high positions.

It is an issue of will, personal will, first and foremost. Women have to trust their positive instinct and strive to reach their goals. Otherwise imposing quotas without real involvement of motivated women may lead to failure.

Look for example at the zipped lists proposed by the French Socialist Party at the last elections: they imposed quotas. But even so, the political parties found a way to avoid the position of the law.

As I told you I trust very much in women's power and capacity to succeed, but at the same time they really have to be willing to take certain responsibilities. But in principle I totally agree with this idea that we need to enforce quotas.

You basically said that legislation is not enough to enforce gender equality and what is needed is motivation. Is there any other tool that you think would facilitate the increase of women in power?

I think of the personal tools that we have. The professional qualification that each of us has is the best tool we can use.

I don't say that we have to fight with men, but we can promote our values and we can show that we can do the same thing, maybe using different methods with exactly the same results, and this will ground successful women that we can take as examples around us. Then we can see that it is possible.

Do you think tools like child care from an earlier age, paternity leave and other policy initiatives are enough to boost the number of women in the labour market?

It might be enough. In northern countries where these tools are in place, we see a lot of women in very powerful positions and with very successful results.

I fully appreciated also the Commission's initiatives and the fact that President Barroso put from the beginning more women as commissioners in the College.

But this is also a question of mentality. There are countries where this is not an issue and women are accepted as partners, other countries where there is a more traditional mentality where women are not so much appreciated or where the women prefer to stay on the second line.

But in modern society, what I see is that women become really good partners of men. And there is another issue that I saw with the young generation: it's a huge change in mentality; the young ladies are treated and appreciated as much as the young men. So there is no difference between them.

Madeleine Albright once said that societies are more stable when women are in power. Do you agree?

It is obvious that women are bringing peace and stability and warmth. I would say that they are much more near other people in day-to-day life. They prefer to find solutions rather than fighting.

Are they are much more oriented towards problem-solving?

Yes.

Do you have a vision for the next one hundred years?

Well, I'm not sure, but I know what I would like. Equal representation of women and men in society, not only in politics also in the private sector, in key decision-making positions. That would be an ideal world, much more peaceful, much warmer.

And do you think it will take twenty, forty, sixty, eighty or a hundred years to achieve full equality?

It's difficult to say, but I really hope it will happen in a foreseeable period of time. It will depend on what will happen in the next time. If I see today's young modern women, it will happen very fast.

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