Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Stakeholder

EU’s gender equality progress under threat of conservatism

The principle of equality between women and men, as part of the fundamental values and rights of the EU, is recognised at the highest possible level in the European Union.

It is embedded in visionary Article 2 of the EU treaty, given equal billing with the principles of pluralism, justice and solidarity.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Past generations of Europeans have strengthened maternity leave, improved rights for part-time workers, initiated the anti-discrimination directives and created legal protections against sexual discrimination.

The commitments to protect women’s rights, to promote gender equality and the need to increase women’s employment rates have been incorporated in many regulatory acts, funding instruments and strategic documents (Europe 2020 Strategy, European solidarity fund, European regional development fund, the Daphne programme).

We have also seen the creation of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) as a positive outcome among other steps forward. For these reasons and others, Europe has rightly been seen as a beacon of progress in this area by many around the world.

The global Agenda 2030 and its sustainable development goals give the EU and its member states a particular responsibility at national, European and international level to excel and achieve gender equality.

Challenges ahead

Socialists and social democrats have always been at the forefront of fighting for gender equality and women’s rights. We should be proud of the progress made but must recognize that many important challenges lie ahead, not least in areas such as representation, rights and resources.

The proportion of women in the parliaments and governments of member states still represent 28% and 27 % respectively (2015, DG Justice and consumers on women and men in decision making). Women are paid on average 16% less than men per hour.

Strengthening women’s participation in the labour market and thus ensuring their economic independence are key to fighting poverty - a growing phenomenon among the most vulnerable, such as women and children - and ensuring Europe’s sustainable growth and achieving its EU2020 targets.

Over the three years 2010-2012, a total number of 30,146 victims were registered victims in the European Union, 80% of which were female (67% women and 13% girls) and the majority were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

In any case, the persistent and deep problems of gender discrimination and economic disadvantage can only be solved by concrete actions at both the national and the European level.

Progressing too slowly

We were delighted in 2014 when the incoming Commission promised to prioritize gender equality in EU policy-making — but it has only delivered a staff working document on ‘strategic engagement for gender equality’.

Actions and engagements are progressing too slowly with regard to the issues at stake, such as the deadline of 2020 to achieve the targets set by the EU for its sustainable economic growth.

That’s why the PES Ministers and State Secretaries for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights are calling on the EU to act now.

We need to take action to fight all forms of violence against women and girls through a comprehensive and coordinated Europe-wide approach.

We need to enable women and girls to determine their own lives by safeguarding sexual and reproductive health and rights within the EU.

We need to fight the gender pay gap and to improve work-life balance across Europe, so that women and men have equal access to the labour market and are able to share care-giving responsibilities equally.

We need to embed gender mainstreaming and gender action, including gender sensitive data-analysis and monitoring processes, fundamentally across all our policy-making - including on the global stage, where a humane response to the refugee crisis is simply impossible without prioritising women’s rights.

We need to strengthen and empower EIGE in order to ensure effective EU-wide gender-sensitive analysis and monitoring of the Gender-Equality Strategy.

Core values

At a time when many commentators believe that Europe is fighting for its political life, issues such as these are too often seen as a distraction. It might seem that we have bigger fish to fry.

In fact, with anti-European rhetoric and anti-women/choice movements growing, nothing could be further from the truth.

Especially when the EU is reflecting and shaping its future following the Bratislava Declaration, core-values – including women’s rights and gender equality - cannot be compromised or set aside.

Especially since gender equality and women's rights are key to increasing employment rates, to developing the European social model, and to achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.

We now have an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of women and girls, and to reap the benefits across our whole society. But, to do that, we must put words into action - and quickly.

This is why PES Gender Equality Ministers are meeting in Paris on 27 October.

Signed by:

Zita Gurmai, PES Women president

Laurence Rossignol, Minister for Family, Elderly and Women’s Rights (France)

Asa Regner, Minister for Children, Elderly and Gender Equality (Sweden)

Elke Ferner, Parliamentary State Secretary for Family, Senior Citizen, Women and Youth (Germany)

Social Europe on the Horizon

The European Union is facing the crisis of its life. The economic crisis, the nationalist response to it, the euro crisis and the lack of solidarity shown towards refugees have brought the very spirit of Europe into question.

Opinion

Why EU diplomacy needs more women

Greek woman who recently became EU foreign service's gender equality officer could change male-dominated club of international diplomacy.

Women shake Poland's pillars of power

Polish women are marching again this Sunday and Monday. They could succeed where the opposition, the European Commission and other protests failed, and redraw Poland's political map.

Help 112: How EU cooperation saves lives and money

The European emergency service number 112 has struggled with emergency location accuracy since it was introduced in 1991. Location services, used every day to order a taxi or a pizza to our front door, is the solution.

Europeans still blaming women for rape

One in four Europeans think rape can be justified in certain circumstances, while one in five say violence against women is often provoked by the victim.

We must renew Europe for all Europeans

A call for socialist values and rights at a time when Europe is facing a number of existential threats, says a group of progressive European affairs ministers.

Stakeholders' Views

This EUobserver section provides a platform for EU stakeholders to communicate positions, views and activities.

News in Brief

  1. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  2. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  3. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  4. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  5. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  6. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  7. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  8. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  2. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  4. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  5. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsDomestic Violence in Tajikistan: Time to Right the Wrongs
  7. European Trust SummitCorporate Strategy and Public Affairs in a Low-Trust World - Conference 31 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Agreement Reached to Involve Consumers in Financial Services Policymaking
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cities Gather Against Violent Extremism & Introduce Nordic Safe Cities
  10. World VisionFears and Dreams of Syria's Children and Their Peers Around the World
  11. Malta EU 2017Maltese Presidency and EP Agree on Visa Liberalisation for Ukraine
  12. Mission of China to the EUEU Window Chinese Government Academic Scholarship 2017/18 - Apply Now