Following her first election to the European Parliament for Bulgarian party GERB in 2009, Mariya Gabriel was nominated by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, as Chief of the EU Electoral Observation Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011. On 19 October 2012 she was elected Vice-President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Women.
In 2014, Mariya Gabriel became a Member of the European Parliament for a second mandate. Since then she is Head of the Bulgarian EPP Delegation and Vice-President of the EPP Group responsible for relations with Mediterranean countries.
UfM: What is the UfM’s potential role in the region as regards women’s empowerment?
Mariya Gabriel (M.G.): I would start by saying that the Union for the Mediterranean has a key role in, on the one hand, promoting women’s rights and, on the other, working towards the inclusion of women in all spheres of political, economic and social activity. Thus, the Union for the Mediterranean is the driving force; it is the platform that allows the different issues to be brought together, the different conditions that rightly enable women to get involved in decision-making, to work towards an inclusive economy and to share good practice, as well as ensuring that the various women’s networks get to know each other, thereby contributing to raising awareness of women’s potential.
The Union for the Mediterranean is, therefore, a major contributor to development and to raising awareness of women’s potential in political, economic and social activity.
UfM: What should be the main priority for action in support of women’s empowerment in the region?
M.G.: These days, we all know that we need political stability, economic development and inclusive social activity.
What is detrimental to these three aspects right now is the increasing radicalisation both within our societies and beyond our borders. So nowadays, I think that we should look ahead, look at what role women can play in combating radicalisation, in bringing that positive touch that allows ― on a community level before moving to a national level ― women to contribute to prevention, instead of dealing with the consequences, and therefore to promote this model of peace and security, without which no economic or social development is possible.