#GiveHerASeat trends after female EU leader not given chair on official visit

#GiveHerASeat trends after female EU leader not given chair on official visit
© European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L)and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive at a press conference at the end of an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, on December 11, 2020. (Getty)

Social media users quickly adopted a new hashtag after two European Union leaders visited Turkey and only one was offered a chair during a meeting.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and her colleague Charles Michel, president of the European Council, met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this week. In the meeting room, two seats were situated between the E.U. and Turkish flags. Michel was given one, and Erdoğan took the other, leaving von der Leyen standing.

"Uhm …" von der Leyen muttered as she evaluated the situation, raising her hand in question, as shown in video clips posted to Twitter.


She eventually was seated on a nearby side sofa as photographers snapped pictures of the two men. On a side sofa across from her sat Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

The New York Times noted that von der Leyen and Michel are of equal rank in the E.U. leadership, and that von der Leyen outranks Çavuşoğlu.

After the incident made its way onto the internet, outcry began, with many saying it was indicative of Turkey's view of women. Days before the meeting, Turkey exited the Istanbul Convention, a treaty aimed at stopping violence against women, the Times reports.

"#GiveHerASeat" began trending, initially in Europe and then elsewhere.


"In protocol terms, the president of the commission is treated in the same way as the president of the council," Eric Mamer, a European Commission spokesman, said during a Thursday press briefing, noting that typically the two are seated side-by-side at events.