Samira Rafaela

Samira Rafaela

Samira Rafaela has been a Member of the European Parliament on behalf of the Dutch social-liberal party D66 since 2019. She is the first Dutch Afro-Caribbean MEP in the European Parliament, and one of the youngest MEPs elected in 2019. In 2020, Samira was selected as Politico Europe’s one of the 20 MEPs to watch 2020 for her contribution to making trade more green and fair. In 2020, Samira won the Harper’s Bazaar International Women of the Year Award.

In the European Parliament, Samira is a Member of the Committee on International Trade where she is the Coordinator for Renew Europe. In 2022, Samira wrote a Position Paper for Renew Europe on the role of Gender in Trade, in which Gender and Human Rights are mainstreamed in trade policy. She was also nominated in 2022 for the MEPS awards in the Social Inclusion & Diversity category. As trade coordinator of Renew Europe, she makes trade policies more gender-sensitive, fair, and progressive. Additionally, she is a Member of the Committee on Women’s rights and Gender Equality, where she was Coordinator for Renew Europe from 2019 until 2022.

Samira Rafaela is a substitute in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Subcommittee on Human Rights, and the Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, she is part of the Delegation to Latin America, where she co-chairs the Women’s Forum, as well as the Delegation to Chile. She is a substitute on the Delegations to Mercosur and Cariforum. Moreover, she is the co-president of the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup and she co-founded the Overseas Countries and Territories friendship group. Before she was elected, Samira advised the Commissioner’s staff of the National Dutch police force on inclusion and diversity.

One of Samira’s biggest achievements is the European directive Pay Transparency, for which she was the rapporteur on behalf of the FEMM Committee in the European Parliament. Despite the principle of equal pay being laid down in the European treaties since 1957, the gender pay gap stubbornly persisted at average 13% across the EU. This legislation puts forward binding pay transparency measures to tackle the unjustified gender pay gap. It enshrines the right to information for all workers in the European Union, for the first time explicitly including non-binary workers. Workers will have the right to be informed on the average pay levels, and the objective criteria upon which this is based, for their function group. Pay secrecy has been abolished, and employers are no longer permitted to ask candidates about their previous salary. Employers with more than 100 employees are obligated to report on the gender pay gap within their organization. Due to Samira’s personal commitment, this directive defines intersectional discrimination for the first time in European history, and has included it as an aggravated factor when deciding penalties.

On behalf of the Renew Group, Samira was responsible for negotiating the Initiative report on Intersectional Discrimination in the EU. She also advocates for denying the access of extremist anti-abortion lobbyists that try to undermine fundamental rights and therefore do not belong in the European Parliament. She wrote a letter on this to the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. As a response to this call, President Metsola has started an investigation into these anti-abortion, anti-gender lobby organisations in the European Parliament. 

In line with Politico’s forecast for 2020, Samira Rafaela has fulfilled and even exceeded the expectations in reforming trade policy. As standing rapporteur for the trade agreement with Chile, she succeeded in enforcing the first dedicated Gender and Trade chapter on behalf of the European Parliament. This was a hard condition for her vis-à-vis the other European institutions and now this has become a reality. For Samira, the economic empowerment of women and the inclusion of a gender lens in EU trade policy are key issues to create a fairer world, and so is an equal trade relation with Africa and Latin America. Trade is a key accelerator for sustainability and human rights standards and EU trade policy needs to promote this.

She was also the driving force behind the resolution on the TRIPS waiver during the pandemic. Against all odds, she managed to get a majority within the liberal group to vote for the TRIPS waiver. The European Commission eventually agreed to a mild variant of it within the WTO.

The Women on Boards legislative proposal had been stuck in the Council for more than a decade. As a negotiator for Renew Europe, Samira did not agree with weakening the enforcement section. Instead, she demanded that companies still be ‘shamed and famed’ if they do not meet the minimum target of 40 percent. As a result, her idea for a ‘faming list’ has been included in the final proposal. This list recognizes companies that have complied with the legislation, and therefore have the appropriate gender balance. Companies that do not appear on it, therefore, do not comply.

One of the first gender equality issues Samira addressed was maternity leave for female MEPs. She has been driving this debate in the European Parliament since 2019 and has written a letter about it to Charles Michel. He bounced the ball back: the EP first had to arrange itself in a report on the adjustment of the Electoral Act. Samira eventually succeeded in this by submitting an amendment to this effect. The important report is now waiting for processing.

Furthermore, through a resolution on MeToo in the European Parliament, she has ensured mandatory training on the subject for all MEPs, starting in 2024 hopefully. This was always an unpopular point of view, but the parliament now agrees with it.

One of Samira’s most interestingachievements was to successfully put the Dutch Child benefit scandal on the international map. The thousands of families, which were falsely accused of fraud by the Dutch government and who predominately were families with a migration history, still are not compensated for their financial nor their emotional damage until this dayThe reason for these false accusations was the use of black box systems by the government. On the bases of biased, self-learning algorithms, the artificial intelligence was supposed to detect fraud on the bases of i.e. ethnicity, religion or post code.

Since 2020, Samira and her team have been contacting the European Commission about this gross breech of human rights. With her persistence and despite a lot of pressure from various parties, she finally achieved to put the issue of the scandal on the agenda of a plenary part session in the parliament as an oral question. By this, the issue was open for debate between all MEPs of the parliament and the Commission was obliged to answer to them on the spot. 

Samira finds it important that in case a national government fails to protect its citizens from institutional racism, the EU must step up to help those citizens. In standing her ground, Samira used it as an example for the rest of Europe and thus assured Commissioner Dalli’s commitment to monitor the compensation of the victims in due time. You can find the debate with the commissioner here.


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