Kristalina Georgieva : "It takes courage from women not to shy away from important responsabilities."

Cinquième volet de nos Drôles de dames avec Kristalina Georgieva, 56 ans, Bulgare, économiste de renom et ancienne vice-présidente de la Banque Mondiale, devenue Commissaire à la coopération internationale, à l'aide humanitaire et à la gestion de crise.

Does the fact that you are a women played a role in your daily job as a commissioner ?

I am working in an area where compassion is very important. It is also important to focus in what can be done and to develop a very simple plan to get there. Women provide an added value in these two areas. Promoting women at all levels has a positive effect, even from an economic point of view. Societies with a good gender balance always do better than societies that are more unequal.

With only 9 women appointed as commissioner, the parity men/women is far from being respected in the Barroso Commission II... More than 50% of the people in the planet are women and this should be reflected at any level and in any activity. I do hope that overtime we will see a Commission where half or more of its members are women. In any case, Commissioners are proposed by Member States and I have to say that Bulgaria, so far, has always presented women for the post of Commissioner as well as in other very senior posts like Irina Bokova who is Director General of UNESCO.

Why there are so few women at EU-high responsability job ?

It takes time for a paradigm to shift but the shift only happens when there is strong commitment to it. It takes commitment from men to select women for high positions, and takes courage from women not to shy away from important responsibilities. For instance, in 2004 the World Bank offered me the job of Country Director for Russia and when I arrived there I realised that I was one of the very few women sent to represent institutions or countries in Russia. In the very first diplomatic reception I went, attended with 250 people, there were only 2 women in the room, myself and the cultural attaché of the Brazilian embassy. Many countries were scared to send women because Russia is a hard society, ruled by men. But this made me think. Action really matters and it takes commitment by men and courage by women. As a woman who made its career in based on merits, I always knew that I had to work harder and to be stronger than my male colleagues. Hopeully, this won't be the case for younger generation.

Do you think that EU institutions could be qualified as "macho" ? Did you have any problem during your career to impose you ?

I have not worked long enough in the European institutions to judge. But there have been occasions in my life where there were subtle discrimination. There is indeed a problem. We have a long history where the role of women in society was restricted to the household or jobs in support fonctions. The Commission has still more jobs for women in support fonctions than there is the case for men. The more interesting question is that in societies where there is gender equality are they doing better? And the evidences overwhelmingly show that good gender balance is good economics, that unleashing the power of women is not only good for women, it is also good for the whole society, it contributes to their economic and social wellbeing. Good gender policy is also good economics.

If you could change something in the EU, what would it be ?

That in the way we work, we strive always for the maximum level of ambition and not for the least we can agree with.

If you could define Europe in 3 words ?

Solidarity, security, prosperity.

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