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The gender inequalities in the European Union

The gender inequalities in the European Union


This year, on International Women's Day (8 March), the European Parliament will be focusing on the pay gap between women and men.

In this connection, Parliament asked TNS Opinion to carry out a Flash telephone survey, which was conducted on 19 and 20 January 2012 among 25 539 European citizens in the 27 EU Member States.

The questions focused on the pay gap, as well as a number of other topics. TNS Opinion's report gives a detailed account of the survey's findings, which mainly concern child-minding responsibilities and gender issues at work.

Before outlining the main trends highlighted by the survey, it is worth pointing out the following:

  • When asked about the seriousness of gender inequalities in their country, 52% of Europeans (W 58%; M 46%) viewed them as a 'serious' problem, while 45% thought the opposite. An absolute majority of respondents in 10 of the Member States considered them to be a serious problem.
  • 60% of Europeans think that gender inequalities have tended to decrease over the last 10 years. However, almost a quarter of them (24%) think that they have increased, while 12% say spontaneously that there has not been any change.
  • Europeans consider the most important gender inequality to be violence against women (48%), closely followed by the pay gap (43%). Trafficking in women and prostitution comes in third place with 36%.
  • Europeans were asked more specifically about their view of the pay gap: 69% (W 76% and M 62%) see it as a 'serious' problem. This is the majority view in 25 of the 27 Member States. Only 28% say that it is not a serious problem.
  • As regards the best level at which to tackle the pay gap, 47% of Europeans are in favour of action at EU level, 38% of action at national level and 11% of action at local or regional level.
  • Respondents were also asked about the measures which would do the most to reduce the pay gap between women and men. On this point, Europeans are divided on whether incentives or penalties would be more effective, with very similar scores being recorded for 'facilitating access for women and men to any type of employment' (27%), 'imposing financial penalties on companies that do not respect gender equality' (26%) and 'transparent pay scales in companies' (24%).
The EP and the expectations of European citizens

The European Parliament regularly commissions surveys on public opinion in the 28 Member States.

These surveys cover a wide range of issues, focusing primarily on the European citizens' knowledge of the European Parliament, their perceptions of the EU and its main challenges, their expectations in view of the European elections, the European Parliament and the European integration in general.

The analysis of the results is meant to ensure the most complete overview of national evolutions, regional specificities, as well as socio-demographic differences and historical trends.