May 25th, 2014 was a historical day for Europe. It was the day of the European Parliament elections, which brought tens of millions of Europeans to the voting stations in all EU member countries to elect Members of the European Parliament who would be representing the over 500 million EU citizens for the next five years. May 25th 2014 ended up being a historical day for Europeans, both from the positive aspect but unfortunately also from a negative aspect.
Unfortunately, this year’s election was a good one for the far conservative right parties – many of which are openly racist, and many of which now hold seats in the Parliament. For example, in France the far-right party Front National gained nearly 25% of all the French votes, Greece’s extreme right party Golden Dawn – which is often described as a party with a neo-nazi ideology – took around 10% of the vote and secured seats in the EU parliament, and in Germany the National Democratic Party, which is often described as neo-nazist and Hitler-apologetic, was elected to the EU parliament. These far-right and extreme conservative parties were elected after running for the Parliament under slogans such as:
Money for granny instead of Sinti and Roma (NDP Germany)
However, in the midst of all this racism, fascism and nazism, May 25th also brought some notable victories and much needed light to Europeans. For the first time ever, a feminist party was elected to the European Parliament, as the Swedish Feminist Initiative gained 5.3% of the votes and gained a seat. This is not only important for the Swedish women and people, but for all European women and feminists.
This week, I am at the Nordiskt Forum Malmö – New Action on Women’s Rights with other Girls’ Globe bloggers, and had the honor to listen to Soraya Post, the newly elected Member of the European Parliament from the Swedish Feminist Initiative, as well as the representant for feminist initiative in Brussels and Gudrun Schyman, the current spokeswoman for the party. Both of these women represent people I personally highly respect, and look up to.
Gudrun Schyman explained that the Feminist Initiative started around ten years ago with the goal to eventually reach the Swedish and European Parliaments. She noted that the progress the party made during the past years, and particularly in the European Parliamentary elections, was built on organized and hard work. People representing political parties and civil society have been working together to raise the profile and support for feminism within the Swedish society. Gudrun Schyman described feminism as the most important power against all racism and fascism, which are now gaining dangerous support and ground within the European Union.
Feminism is the opposite to racism. When racist parties go to the polls for hate and inequality, feminists go to the polls for social justice and equality.
Soraya Post, who is a Romani, has faced racism against herself and her family throughout her entire life. She noted that it almost got to a point where she perceived discrimination as something normal, as a result of having experienced it on daily basis for so many years. It is hard to imagine what actually happens in the heart of a child who has to witness their parents being humiliated and discriminated by the surrounding society every single day.
However, it is because of the background and experiences of Soraya Post background that I believe she will be the most important voice in the European Parliament. The hatred towards Soraya Post by the conservative parties is a testament to her power, and testament to how desperately EU needs more voices like hers.
During her speech at the Nordiskt Forum, Soraya Post explained that the most powerful tool we have is the power of equality. That statement is so true and gets to the heart of feminism, and what feminism aims to achieve. While racist parties in the European Parliament will try to neglect other peoples rights and build politics on inequality, I feel better knowing that Soraya Post also will be there, fighting for the exact opposite – and she has thousands and thousands of voices behind her, cheering her on.
To find out more about Nordiskt Forum, visit http://nf2014.org/ and follow @NFm2014 and #nf2014 on Twitter!