As an alternative of a chair, von der Leyen was relegated to a lower-status couch, throughout from the Turkish international minister whom she outranks. A video of von der Leyen’s stunned and clearly annoyed response upon seeing the seating preparations went viral hours after the assembly.
“I can’t discover any justification for what I used to be handled within the European treaties. So I’ve to conclude that it occurred as a result of I’m a girl. Would this have occurred if I had worn a swimsuit and a tie?” von der Leyen mentioned. “Within the footage of earlier conferences, I didn’t see any scarcity of chairs, however then once more I didn’t see any ladies in these footage neither.”
Michel technically outranks von der Leyen in diplomatic protocol, however the two leaders usually obtain coequal billing in conferences. In earlier conferences between the 2 earlier E.U. presidents, each of whom have been males, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the three leaders have been seated equally.
Von der Leyen’s denunciation was notable not less than partially as a result of it confronted an alleged occasion of sexism head-on, not lengthy after it occurred.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, maybe the world’s strongest feminine chief and a longtime von der Leyen ally, has taken a low-key method to gender points. And in a 2019 interview with Zeit, Merkel mentioned she had consciously declined to deal with the sexism she has skilled in workplace.
“That’s a elementary method,” Merkel mentioned. “I imagine that, as a politician, you’ve to have the ability to take it, you can solely do that job if you happen to aren’t overly delicate. You need to think about the true points. I merely be aware of the remaining.”
Von der Leyen, against this, advised lawmakers on Monday that the ladies amongst them may acknowledge their very own experiences in hers, regardless that all of them had reached a few of the strongest locations in politics.
“Honorable members, lots of you should have made fairly comparable experiences prior to now, particularly the feminine members of this Home. I’m positive you understand precisely how I felt. I felt harm and I felt alone, as a girl and as a European,” von der Leyen mentioned.
“As a result of it’s not about seating preparations or protocol. This goes to the core of who we’re. This goes to the values our union stands for, and this reveals how far we nonetheless should go earlier than ladies are handled as equals, all the time and in all places,” she mentioned.
Von der Leyen stopped in need of specifying exactly whom she blamed for the incident: Michel, Erdogan or their groups — though officers conversant in her considering have mentioned she is annoyed with all of them. Turkish officers would have been chargeable for the seating preparations, however Michel’s advance workforce reviewed them and will have objected to them.
Michel has mentioned he regrets the optics and that he would have dealt with the scenario in a different way on reflection. However he mentioned that within the second, he wished to keep away from making a diplomatic incident with Turkey and to deal with the agenda of the assembly they have been about to carry, which included a deal with ladies’s rights and equality.