Meet the European Commission's First Female President

She wants a green, gender-equal, united Europe.

Meet the European Commission’s first female president. Her name is Ursula von der Leyen. She’s fired up about climate change, gender equality and unity between countries, and tbh, she seems pretty badass.

Related: The 6 Biggest Surprises in Ramaphosa’s 2019 Gender-Balanced Cabinet

Who is She and What’s Her Plan?

Ursula von der Leyen just made history. She’s the first woman to become president of the European Commission. A win for women’s representation in leadership, for sure.  This is one of the most prestigious positions in the European Union.

She’s been the German Defense Minister and is a mother of seven. “The task ahead of us humbles me. It’s a big responsibility and my work starts now,” reports EWN. While the race was tight between the nominations, “a majority is a majority in politics,” she said.

Ursula von der Leyen pulled no punches about the biggest problems facing the EU. For her, the priorities are climate change, gender equality and internal division in Europe. Time reports that she wants a greener, gender-equal Europe. Here are the biggest challenges she aims to address:

The Climate Crisis is Priority #1

She sees this as the biggest, most urgent challenge. Ursula von der Leyen understands that there’s no Planet B: “Our most pressing challenge is keeping our planet healthy. This is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times.”

She has beeeeg plans for Europe to address this: “I want Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.”

Related: What Does Feminism Have to do with Climate Change?
Her plan is to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030. In the first 100 days of office, she wants “a green deal for Europe.” How, you might wonder? Ursula von der Leyen plans to create a climate division with the European Investment Bank. This is a HUGE step as it could reportedly, “unlock 1 trillion euros of investment over the next decade.”

Related: Children All Over the World Skip Class to Protest in the Climate Strike

She’s SO Here For Gender Equality

She’s been vocal AF on gender equality. Ursula von der Leyen considers it an essential part of her job. YES, please. Referring to her team of 27 commissioners, she said: “I will ensure full gender equality… I want to see as many men as women around the college table.”

Related: Watch This Powerful Gender Equality Campaign Video

Get ready for a WILD statistic. She mentioned that since 1958, less than 20% of commissioners have been women.

“We represent half of our population. We want our fair share.”


She Wants a United Europe (Brexit Wasn’t Happy)

She spoke about Brexit (the UK leaving Europe). And she was booed by the Brexit party for her stance on a united Europe. She’s looking to possibly extend the UK’s membership. How did THAT go down?

Well, Nigel Farage (Brexit party leader) accused her of wanting to build ‘a centralised, undemocratic, updated form of communism’, according to The Guardian.

“We must rediscover our unity,” she said referring to the relationships between European countries. “My message to all of you is: let us work together constructively”.

Unity between states is important to her. She realizes that lasting success is only possible together: “None of us on its own will be as successful in tackling the problems as we are together — 28 member states.”

Related: What Britain’s Brexit Vote Means for South Africans

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