The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has been awarded the Woman of the Year award by Women in a Legal World in Madrid. In her speech, President Metsola said that she is grateful to all those women who came before and opened the door. Now, she said, our challenge is to make it easier for those who come next.
© European Union | The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola receiving the Woman of the Year award in Madrid
Querida Marlén Estevez, presidenta de Women in a Legal World
Querida Vicepresidenta, Nadia Calviño
Es un honor estar hoy en Madrid.
And it is an honour to be receiving the Women in a Legal World’s ‘Woman of the Year’ award - and to share a stage with so many other brilliant women... thank you so much.
Choosing a career in the legal field has probably been one of the best decisions of my life. I remember my family being quite shocked at the decision - and I was definitely the odd one out between my two sisters who today are both amazing scientists.
I remember my mother telling me that if I wanted something to be changed I should stop complaining and do it myself. For me the decision to join law and politics was about my country joining the European Union. It was a generational aspiration that changed our world. We could not afford not to be part of that. We knew that with all its problems and imperfections, the EU meant our lives would be that little bit better. A little bit fairer. A little bit safer.
That is the ethos of the European Parliament. I must admit that I have not always found a smooth path to follow. Being is politics is never easy and being a woman in politics does not make it any easier. I speak to schools and young girls very often. My advice is always to, despite everything, to get involved - in politics, in their communities, in doing what they can. A life in politics is not always easy, you need a thick skin, a sense of justice, a drive to make things better.
Women in particular still face double standards and higher ceilings - your words and your intentions will be dissected, even twisted sometimes, but the upside of politics, the positive change in people's lives that you can impact, makes it all worth it. Politics remains a noble cause and one where we need to see more young women involved. It is worth it.
I grew up with the mantra that if you work hard enough; if you want it enough; and you are ready to climb that mountain then nothing can hold you back – not your gender, not your age, not your background - but yes the climb is steeper.
I have kept this mantra especially close to me throughout this past year.
When I was elected as President of the European Parliament, I knew that my new role would have me face many challenges. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what was to happen.
Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine shook our foundations to the core. By invading a sovereign, independent country, the Kremlin has categorically rejected our rules-based intentional order. That is why it was so important - and remains important - to stand with Ukraine. We will not leave Ukraine alone to fight a war for our common values. This is what I told President Zelenskyy in Kyiv when I visited the Ukrainian Parliament just a few weeks after the war broke out.
I try to do my bit to make the path for those who come after us easier, but one of the things that still concerns me however is the fact that women in leadership positions are still under represented in most places.
What we need is a real paradigm shift in thinking and in culture. We need to do more, much more, to encourage women to take-up leadership positions. And here it is not just about empowerment, it is about opportunity. Genuine, real and actual opportunity.
Opportunity that is not presented to women because they are women. But rather, in spite of the fact that they are women.
Only then can we all be able to see, what should be self-evident, that a woman’s place is truly wherever she wants it to be – be that standing up in Parliament, heading a law firm, presiding a Court room or leading a nation to prosperity.
Thank you once again for this great honour.
You can read the President's speech in Spanish here.