UEF President, Andrew Duff, participated in the jury that elected the Romanian exMinister of Justice as Woman of Europe 2008. Andrew Duff voted for the winner on the meeting held Wednesday 12th in Brussels for her dedication to build a European Justice system in Romania and fight against corruption. Romanian anti-corruption campaigner Monica MACOVEI saw off competition from 11 other women to land the award, the aim of which is to encourage the involvement of women in European affairs.
MACOVEI, an ex-minister of justice in Romania, currently works for the UK government as a consultant on justice reforms in EU candidate countries.
But it was her efforts in rooting out political corruption in her own country which won her the plaudits of an international jury, including MEPs Andrew DUFF and Gerard ONESTA.
Presenting her with the award, a gold broche, POTTERING said she and the other candidates were a "symbol and model for women everywhere" and that she could be proud of her achievements.
He said the EU was making efforts to promote gender equality but more was needed, particularly by the EU institutions.
MACOVEI described the award as a "great honour" and praised the other candidates who came from 11 different countries.
Dedicating the prize to "all Romanians who believe in the rule of law", she said, "Tackling corruption has been the most challenging thing in my life but I will continue because I believe in zero corruption."
Each of the 12 shortlisted candidates was given five minutes to make a presentation to the jury in parliament on Wednesday.
This list was reduced to three candidates, who included MACOVEI, Lithuanian journalist Zuokiene AGNE, who has campaigned for children´s rights, and academic Saulle Maria RITA, a judge on Italy´s constitutional court,who was listed for her work in promoting human rights.
MACOVEI told the jury that tackling corruption in Romania had been a "very, very challenging and difficult" task, not least because the country's politicians and top officials used to enjoy "virtual" immunity from prosecution.
French politician Nicole FONTAINE, a former president of parliament, praised the "high quality" of the candidates, saying, "They are all outstanding and amazing women and picking a winner has been very difficult."
Her comments were echoed by DUFF, who said,"It was an interesting selection and a fair reflection of the contribution made by talented women across Europe."
He pointed out that the plans he has put forward for transnational lists for next year's European elections emphasise the importance of gender equality.
ONESTA, a vice president of parliament, said, "The fact that one of the candidates is the only female among the 15 judges on Italy's constitutional court illustrates the scale of the gender problem."
The award has been given each year since 1987 by the International Association for the Promotion of Women in Europe. The jury consisted of MEPs, journalists, NGO representatives and academics.
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