Women & Gender Equality in Europe: a New Hope
In honor of International Women’s Rights Day, eEuropa presents an article to highlight gender equality and women’s rights in the EU.
The European Union has a long history of actions promoting equality between women and men since 1957, when the principle that the sexes should receive equal pay for the same work was added in Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome. Furthermore, equality between women and men has gained importance over the years as one of the policies of the EU.
The EU actively promotes and financially supports gender equality and women’s empowerment programs not only in Europe but across the world.
The EU is committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in both its internal and external policies. The Fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5), which revolves around gender issues, aims to eliminate all forms of prejudice, discrimination and gender-based violence in the public and private spheres by 2030.
The EU works to ensure that all women and girls have equal opportunities and their own empowerment rights.
Gender equality is one of the EU’s core values and has been preserved since its inception and enshrined in European law for decades. The EU is strongly committed to achieving SDG 5 by funding initiatives and programs that empower women, as well as guaranteeing their fundamental rights, security, freedom and physical integrity.
The EU has made significant progress in recent years, even if the situation remains unbalanced in amongst Member States.
European citizens expect increased EU action on gender policies and improved conditions for women. During the last parliamentary term, as part of a broader gender equality agenda, the EU institutions worked on proposals for new EU laws in order to improve work-life balance and fight violence against women.
There are several options for further EU involvement and support that could help address persistent gender gaps, as well as accelerate progress in this area. For example, better implementation and enforcement of existing EU gender equality legislation moves to modernize it or introduce new legislation to fill protection gaps or address emerging issues, and further non-legislative measures such as collection and data monitoring, benchmarking, awareness – collection, funding and support to Member States, national equality bodies and grassroots organizations.
When it comes to EU achievements on gender equality, it is the result of equal treatment legislation, gender mainstreaming, the integration of the gender perspective into all other policies and specific measures for the advancement of women.
The new EU Strategy
The EU has developed a Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025 on behalf of the Von der Leyen Commission’s commitment to achieve a Union of Equality. This strategy provides policy goals and actions to make significant progress on gender issues by 2025 and towards a gender-equal Europe. The ultimate goal is a Union in which women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free to follow their chosen life path, have an equal opportunity to thrive and can equally participate in and lead European society.
The key objectives are to end gender-based violence in all its forms, challenge gender stereotypes in society and raise public awareness. The Commission also calls for closing gender gaps in the labor market, achieving equal participation in different sectors of the economy, closing pay and pension gaps, closing the gender gap in care and achieving gender balance in decision-making and politics.
The gender equality strategy pursues a dual gender mainstreaming approach, combined with targeted actions and intersectionality. However, the EU strategy not only focuses on actions within the EU, but is also consistent with the its external policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The new EU strategy for the promotion of gender equality testifies to the willingness to commit all Member States to consider this as one of the great challenges for the coming years and a priority to be pursued.
- Gender Equality, European Commission
- A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, Communication from the Commission, COM/2020/152 final
- Promoting Gender Equality & Women’s Rights beyond the EU, European Commission