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Spain wants women's equality to be part of EU economic strategy

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Spain wants women's equality to be part of EU economic strategy

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

(VALENCIA) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Sunday that women's equality should be a part of the European Union's new 10-year plan to make the bloc's economy more competitive.

Zapatero, whose country holds the rotating six-month presidency, said the the strategy set as one of its goals raising the female employment rate across the 27-nation EU to 70 percent by 2020.

It should also seek to make a "maximum" reduction in the wage gap between men and women, he said at the end of the two-day "Women for a Better World" conference in the Mediterranean port city of Valencia.

"I support the idea that the economic strategy for the next decade, known as the 2020 strategy, should include the basis for a more sustainable, balanced and innovative development that fully affirms equality between men and women," he said.

EU member states are currently hammering out the details of the "2020 strategy" which is to replace the 10-year "Lisbon strategy" agreed in 2000 and which was designed to make the bloc the most dynamic economy in the world by the end of this year.

More than 500 women from around the world, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and over 50 government ministers, took part in the gathering which has been held annually since 2006.

In a video message played at the start of the meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that ensuring that women have equal status and opportunities is the key to global prosperity.

"When women are afforded their rights and afforded equal opportunities in education, health care, employment and political participation, they help drive social and economic progress," she said.

"But when they are marginalised and mistreated as is still the case in too many places in Africa and around the world, broad and lasting progress is impossible. Empowering women is a key to global progress and prosperity."

It is the second time that Spain has hosted a Women for a Better World meeting after Madrid in 2007.

Mozambique hosted the first meeting in 2006. Others were held in Niger in 2008 and Liberia in 2009.

Meeting of Spanish and African Women for a Better World

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