Éliane Vogel-Polsky

Éliane Vogel-Polsky

Éliane Vogel-Polsky... Does the name mean anything to you? She was a key figure in recent decades, who was committed to gender equality throughout her life.

Her parents, of Russian origin, emigrated to Belgium after the First World War. Éliane was born in Ghent in 1926, but the family moved to Brussels in 1938. She held a doctorate in law from the ULB and specialised in social law, taking courses at the Labour Institute of the ULB as well.

In 1952, she married lawyer André Albert Vogel and together they had three sons.

The Treaty of Rome (1957) explicitly defends, in Article 119, equal pay for equal work for men and women. Éliane would become the embodiment of this article, first in Belgium and later at European level. However, as early as 1961, Europe was already of the opinion that, due to a lack of figures on the issue, the article could not be applied in practice!

Gradually, Éliane became more and more involved in the issue of gender equality in the professional sector, defending equal pay, the place of women in hierarchies and in positions of responsibility, etc. She pleaded with women in professional circles to open their eyes to inequalities. Her action would lead to the revolt of the female workers of the Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. In 1966, 3,500 women blocked the factory for 3 months! The women would get a pay rise but not quite equality...

As a lawyer, she understood that in order to achieve professional equality, political change was needed: having more women present in assemblies, and ideally parity, or "parity democracy".

As a teacher at the ULB, she authored numerous writings, including the "European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life".

She passed away in Brussels at the end of 2015. A street was recently named after her, as part of a new urban development plan, on the border between the communes of Laeken and Jette.