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Male and Feminist: Égalité Infos Interviews Marc Tarabella

In Media, Politics on January 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Marc Tarabella. Image from egalite-infos.fr.

In recent weeks Egalite Infos has published a series of great interviews with high-profile male French and European feminists. Here are a few of the highlights from their interview with MEP Marc Tarabella.

Marc Tarabella is a MP in the Belgian socialist party who is also an European Minister and sits on the EU Parliament Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. He is one of only 5 men (out of 60 MEPs) who sit on the committee.

When asked how his male colleagues view his place on the committee, Tarabella says, “Some of my colleagues still politely make fun of me. They’re not nasty taunts, it just makes them smile.” (Certains de mes collègues se moquent encore gentiment de moi, ce ne sont pas des railleries méchantes, ça les fait juste sourire.)

In his daily and family life Tarabella tries to implement his feminist values just as much as in his professional role: “For me, there aren’t any differences between the sexes. At the start of our marriage, my first wife was a lawyer. She earnt more than me, but it didn’t bother me. I know many men who wouldn’t have stood for it. I was also unemployed for three months and I did [my wife’s] secretarial work. In the evenings it was me who made the dinners. And also with my children (I have a son and a daughter) I try to be egalitarian.”  (Pour moi, il n’y a pas de différences entre les sexes. Au début de notre mariage, ma première femme qui est avocate, gagnait plus que moi, cela ne me gênait pas. Je connais de nombreux hommes qui ne l’auraient pas supporté. J’ai même été au chômage pendant trois mois et je faisais son secrétariat. Le soir, c’est moi qui faisais à manger. Et puis avec mes enfants, j’ai un garçon et une fille, j’essaye d’être égalitaire.)

So what does Marc Tarabella consider to be the big issues for women’s rights? “For me, the most fundamental struggle is against violence against women. It is a tragedy which also affects children. We are pushing member states to get more involved. It’s Spain who has done the most in this domain with a framework law.” (Pour moi la lutte la plus fondamentale est celle contre les violences faites aux femmes. C’est un drame qui rejaillit d’ailleurs aussi sur les enfantsNous poussons les Etats membres à s’impliquer davantage. C’est l’Espagne qui en Europe a fait le plus en ce domaine avec une loi-cadre.)

Legislation to support women who are victims of violence is on the way and the Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is working hard to raise awareness of these issues.  Tarabella comments, ” I am the co-author of a declaration to make 2013 the European Year against violence towards women. We want to set up a large campaign which would include the exchange of practises.”(Je suis co-auteur d’une déclaration visant à faire de 2013, l’Année européenne contre les violences faites aux femmes. Nous voudrions mettre en place une vaste campagne qui comporterait des échanges de bonnes pratiques.)

There are several notable initiatives which are expected to be presented as ‘best practises’ to be copied in other states.  Tarabella continues, “It already exists in Belgium, as in several countries, ‘The White Ribbon Campaign’, an initiative of men who are against violence towards women. I feel close to this initiative because it is men who are responsible for this violence.” (Il existe en Belgique, comme dans de nombreux pays, « la campagne du ruban blanc », une initiative d’hommes qui s’engagent contre les violences faites aux femmes. Je me sens proche de cette initiative car ce sont les hommes qui sont les responsables de ces violences.)

For more information read the original interview (in French) here and Marc Tarabella’s profile on the official EU website (in English) here.