A boost for gender equality
© Andrei Merkulov, Fotolia
Although the EU has striven since its foundation to guarantee men and women the same opportunities, significant inequalities still persist. In conclusions adopted on 6 December, the Council expressed its support for the Commission's proposed actions to reduce the gender gap.
The effort will focus on five priority areas:
- equal economic independence;
- equal pay for equal work;
- equality in decision-making;
- ending gender-based violence; and
- gender-mainstreaming in the EU's foreign policies.
One of the main objectives is to raise female participation in the labour market. It approaches 60 % on average in the EU, with huge variations between member states, and between the public and private sectors. The aim is to reach an employment rate of 75 % for both women and men, as defined in the EU strategy for growth and jobs. To enable women to reconcile work and private life, families must have access to affordable care for their children and more flexible working arrangements.
Another important issue is the gender pay gap, which averages around 18 %. In a separate set of conclusions on this subject, member states are invited to reflect on the causes of inequalities in salaries between men and women. They could, for example, take action to promote pay transparency as well as gender-neutral classification of jobs, and increase the number of women in decision-making positions. Entrepreneurship among women should also be promoted.
The Council welcomes the new strategy and looks forward to enhanced collaboration with institutions and partners through a top-level Gender Equality Dialogue, to take place annually. It confirms that gender mainstreaming must be promoted in all policies to accelerate progress towards full gender equality and to allow women to fulfil their potential.
Conclusions on the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015
Conclusions on the gender pay gap
Webcast of press conference