Press Releases

Press Release Details:

  • 29th November 2018 - 14:11 UTC



Brussels, 28.11.18: Last night, the European Movement International and the European Women’s Lobby hosted the third edition of the Women of Europe Awards.

The awards are handed out annually to honour women striving to advance the European project in their professional or private capacity as the role of women in advancing the European project needs to be supported, highlighted and increasingly recognised. The awards showcase vital contributions of women in promoting and advancing European issues and seeks to increase women’s presence and involvement in debates about Europe and its future.


The European Movement and the European Women’s Lobby are proud to announce the winners of the four award categories:

Woman in Power: Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

Woman in Action: Together for Yes (Orla O’Connor, Ailbhe Smyth and Grainne Griffin), co-directors of the Irish national campaign to repeal the 8th amendment (on abortion)

Woman in Business: Axelle Lemaire, Global Head of Terra Numerata, Roland Berger

Woman in Youth Activism: Sigrid Friis Proschowski, Chair of Radikal Ungdom Denmark


Eva Maydell MEP, President of the European Movement International, who was this years Chair of the jury, said: “Today we are celebrating by shining a light on the successful women who are shaping our society with their achievements, passion and ideas. Women as mothers, grandmothers, political leaders and CEOs are all role models, and women’s presence in shaping the European project is making a difference. As such, my message today is to never underestimate the influence that you as a woman can have on bringing about positive change. However, our work is far from finished. We should spread the role model-effect and inspire success.”

Upon receiving the award for Woman in Power, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said: “Every day I see incredible women make incredible things happen … strong, driven and determined women making a difference all over Europe. … I would like to dedicate this award to the many women who implement the Pillar on Social Right on a daily basis, maybe in a less visible way than we do, but in a highly tangible way.”

In a message to the audience at the awards ceremony, the winners of the Woman in Action award – the co-directors of the Together for Yes campaign – said: “Removing the eighth amendment was so important for women in Ireland, but was also so important for women in Europe, and globally, in terms of advancing reproductive rights for women.”

Axelle Lemaire, the winner of the Woman in Business award, added by video message that: “Still in 2018, trying to do what I am trying to do with three children at home and in the society we live in, [being a woman] is still a challenge. So receiving this prize helps me, helps us and helps society to become more inclusive, more gender equal and a nicer place to live in. This is very important to me, so thank you.”

Sigrid Friis Proschowski, the winner of the Woman in Youth Activism award, said: “This Award means a lot to me – and continuing the debate on the future of Europe means a lot to me. Let’s make the European Union a long-term relationship with lots of love! It takes a lot of political passion to improve our European Union – just like with your relationship with you partner at home. I’m here to make the EU something you care about in your everyday life.”

Gwendoline Lefebvre, President of the European Women’s Lobby explained: “Europe as we know it is changing; the rise of anti-feminist populism and isolationist nationalism has drastically changed the political landscape in recent years. We, women and girls, representing half of the population refuse to be defeated by these forces. The resurgent women’s movement is growing in huge strides, demanding equality between all women and men in and across borders. The Women of Europe Awards are a perfect opportunity to amplify women’s voices in the heart of the political discussion about the future of Europe. The awards must also give visibility to the reality of women and girls’ diverse identities. Through acknowledging and addressing this, we can positively impact the lived experiences of women and girls across the continent.”

Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the European Movement International said the following on the awards: “The Europe we aspire to is built on the ideals of equality, solidarity and inclusiveness, one that is by all Europeans and for all Europeans. Tonight we celebrate the role women play in building Europe, so often overlooked and underappreciated. But not by us. It is women, from all of walks of life and all sides of society, that make Europe what it is today. As old ghosts from the dark depths of Europe’s history are trying to make their way back, we need to stand firmly by our values, defend our ideals and put forward a vision that celebrates everyone in our society. Our Europe is united, equal and fair.”


The European Movement is the largest pan-European network of pro-European organisations. It is present in over 30 countries and encompasses 40 international associations, bringing together European civil society, business, trade unions, NGOs, political parties, local authorities and academia. Founded nearly 70 years ago, we have continuously advocated in favour of European cooperation and integration, based on the principles of peace, democracy, liberty, solidarity, equality, justice, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Today, the European Movement seeks to provide a platform to encourage and facilitate the active participation of citizens and stakeholders from a cross-section of sectors in the development of European solutions to our common challenges. We offer thought leadership on the issues that confront Europe; we seek to inform the debates on our Union’s future, involve citizens and stakeholders in the decisions that affect them and influence policy-makers in favour of an open, inclusive, transparent and united Europe

Press contact:

Christian Skrivervik, Press and Communications Manager, European Movement International


+32 (0) 2 508 30 83