This is University Square in Bucharest; it's drizzling, but from the loudspeakers, singer and song-writer Ada Milea’s music, wryly proclaims that "It's snowing mud...”. Indeed this could describe very well the outpour of slander Monica Macovei has been subject to since she took office as Minister of Justice in December 2004. Her political opponents and part of the media called her anything from a drunk, to a junkie. Just recently, the opposition parties tabled a simple motion against her which was passed by the Senate. But if she’s not at all popular across the political spectrum, civil society organized a rally to support her, under the slogan, "Mărţişor for Monica Macovei". About 1000 people gathered in University square to express support for her and what civil society thinks she stands for, namely the reform of the judiciary and combating corruption.
We're supporting the function that she has in the Ministry and also the person.
Why? Because others don’t. She doesn’t have the right people to stand up for her. Do you think that democracy and the values that she stands for, are in danger right now in Romania?
Yeah, that is a fact.
People were cueing up to sign a petition in support of the Minister of Justice. I joined the line, with this young man.
I also talked to one of the organizers of the support rally, Monica Pepine from the Romanian Helsinki Committee.
We never ever had a minister like her and she is very, very honest, and this is bothering so many people. What's the danger, what could happen? There can be a reversion of the democratic process? Yes, definitely. We’re not going back to where we were under Iliescu’s regime, hopefully... I pray God for that, but we’re not moving ahead, if Monica Macovei is under this kind of pressure; because it’s a loss for democracy and my understanding once we’re entering in the European Union was that we are learning how to take steps forward and this is definitely a big, huge one backward.
Though the simple motion against the Minister of Justice was passed by the Senate, the prime minister and leader of the National Liberal Party, said, he would keep her. Willy-nilly, one might add, considering that the motion was passed by the Senate with discreet, but decisive help from the very party that should have supported Monica Macovei, that is the National Liberal Party.Listen to the report:
Thursday's International women's day. Now there seem to be more commemorative days than there are days of the year. Some, like World No Tobacco Day, are self-explanatory. Others, such as International day of the potato, seem less obvious. But why do women need a day? Men don't get a day and do you hear us complaining? No. We rise above it. They're hardly a minority so is there a good reason to focus on 50% of the population?
Scandinavia is known for the high number of women in politics. A full 47.3 percent of the country's parliamentary politicians are female. Nine of the current ministers in the centre-right cabinet are women - including the deputy Prime Minister.
Glitz and glamour haven't followed Germany's first woman Chancellor Angela Merkel Many worried at the outset that Ms Merkel didn't have enough charisma for the job. Some wondered whether this unassuming former physicist could hold her own with the heavyweights on the world stage. But, it turns out she's put most of those fears to rest.
Perhaps International women's day would be better appreciated by the female MEP's and bureaucrats trying to make a name for themselves in Brussels. But how seriously are women taken in the EU capital? We put it to RN's Brussels correspondant Vanessa Mock that it was surely still a man's world.
She's the socialist candidate for april's presidential elections, and has become something of a media darling in the past year, with the papparazzi snapping her with her children and even on holiday in a bikini. Attention her centre right rival, Nicolas Sarkozy can only dream of. The 2 are neck and neck in the polls and Ms Royal represents the first strong chance of a woman winning the French presidency. Surveys show that the French are now prepared to elect a woman president. But this doesn't mean that sexism in France is dead and buried. Ms Royal's critics, sexists and feminists among them, say she's not doing women any favours.
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