If one person from the EU Commission has made an impact, it's Viviane Reding. As commissioner for telecommunications, she forced the mobile phone operators to their knees; because of her, roaming charges in the EU were dramatically limited.
EU Commissioner Viviane Reding
She is now vice president of the EU Commission. Among her main responsibilities is addressing gender equality. In an interview with gofeminin.de, Reding talks about her goals for the EU on matters of equality: in short, limiting roaming charges was nothing compared to this.
"In French, you call this 'la boucle est bouclée," Viviane Reding says. In other words, her life seems to have come full circle. As EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Reding is responsible, among other things, for advocating for equal opportunities for women.
"This thing with me and gender equality goes way back," she says. As a student feminist, as one of the youngest members of Parliament, then as rapporteur for women's rights, and as president of the Christian Social Women's Group, she was closely involved in the preparations for the World Conference on Women in Beijing. "So I know my stuff," she says.
But now that she represents women in the whole of Europe, her long years of experience are making her take a harder look, she says. "Have women really progressed since I went to university in 1968 and we founded feminism?"
At that time, Reding, who was born in Luxembourg, was on the path to becoming a journalist, and was studying for her degree at the Sorbonne in Paris. "During the student unrest, which started in 1968, we were on the streets shoulder to shoulder with the men. But in the end, the men did everything and we made the coffee. Finally, we had enough – and that is how the feminist movement started."
In 1979, Reding was voted into a national parliament for the first time. Until 1999, she continued working as a journalist, then she joined the European Commission. Why has she taken up the cause of equal opportunities? "I am someone who has a very deeply rooted feeling for justice. And women being viewed as second class citizens is simply not just," she says. "But I am a very realistic person at the same time. If you disregard half the country's population, that's just not a smart thing to do."