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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 April 28 - May 11  > ‘Sofagate’ incident prompts female politicians to strengthen their fight for gender equality
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2021 April 28 - May 11 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

‘Sofagate’ incident prompts female politicians to strengthen their fight for gender equality

April 29, 2021

Akahata ‘current’ column

Recently, in the international political arena, some women leaders have stepped into the spotlight as they succeeded in their fight against COVID-19. The U.S. now has its first female vice president, and the president of the EU Commission is a women who says her aim is to achieve a gender equal EU Commission.

However, an incident which broke this positive mood happened during the visit of the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, to Turkey with the male EU Council president. When the two top EU officials visited Turkish President Erdogan for a summit meeting, there were only two chairs prepared for the three leaders in the room for the summit talks. Von der Leyen with a sigh had to accept an offer to take a seat on a sofa in the same room but away from the two male leaders. This incident, known as “sofagate”, attracted media attention in the U.S. and European nations.

Gender equality is one of the components of the UN SDGs. However, the criticism that is often heard is that in the global political arena, it will take 145 years to achieve this goal.

In reaction to the “sofagate” scandal, the global network of women politicians issued an open letter entitled, “Give women an equal ‘seat’ at the table”. In the letter, using a quote from Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” the network called on women politicians across the globe to stand up to fully attain parity between men and women in politics as soon as possible.
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