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Procedure : 2017/2008(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0271/2017

Texts tabled :

A8-0271/2017

Debates :

PV 02/10/2017 - 15
CRE 02/10/2017 - 15

Votes :

PV 03/10/2017 - 4.4
CRE 03/10/2017 - 4.4
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0364

Texts adopted
PDF 315kWORD 65k
Tuesday, 3 October 2017 - Strasbourg Final edition
Women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU
P8_TA(2017)0364A8-0271/2017

European Parliament resolution of 3 October 2017 on women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU (2017/2008(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 8, 10, 153(1), 153(2) and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 23 and 33 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and repealing Council Directive 86/613/EEC(2),

–  having regard to Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding(3) (Maternity Leave Directive),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 2 July 2008 for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426),

–  having regard to its position of 2 April 2009 on the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation(4),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 3 October 2008 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Maternity Leave Directive (COM(2008)0637),

–  having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 20 October 2010 with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/85/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding and on the introduction of measures to support workers in balancing work and family life(5),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2013/62/EU of 17 December 2013 amending Directive 2010/18/EU implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC, following the amendment of the status of Mayotte with regard to the European Union(6),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 November 2012 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (Women on boards directive) (COM(2012)0614),

–  having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 20 November 2013 with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2015 on maternity leave(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2016 on women domestic workers and carers in the EU(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2016 on the application of Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC and repealing Directive 96/34/EC(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on ‘Poverty: a gender perspective’(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on application of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (‘Employment Equality Directive’)(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(16),

–  having regard to its recommendation of 14 February 2017 to the Council on the EU priorities for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2017 on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014-2015(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2017 on women and their roles in rural areas(19),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 June 2015 on ‘Equal income opportunities for women and men: Closing the gender gap in pensions’,

–  having regard to the European Pact for gender equality for the period 2011-2020 adopted in the Council conclusions of 7 March 2011(20),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 7 March 2014 on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency (2014/124/EU)(21),

–  having regard to the Commission’s initiative of December 2015, ‘Roadmap: A new start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families’, as well as to the public and stakeholder consultations thereon,

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the first global set of guidelines on business and human rights, which were unambiguously endorsed by all UN member states at the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council of 16 June 2011; having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2011 on corporate social responsibility (COM(2011)0681), which encourages EU Member States to adapt the UNGPs to their national context,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 on ‘Establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights’ (COM(2017)0250),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 on ‘An Initiative to Support Work-Life Balance for Working Parents and Carers’ (COM(2017)0252),

–  having regard to the European Investment Bank Group Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 December 2015 on ‘The Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278), and in particular its Chapter 3.1, ‘Increasing female labour-market participation and the equal economic independence of women and men’,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2017 report on equality between women and men in the European Union, and in particular to its chapter 1 on increasing female labour market participation and equal economic independence and chapter 2 on reducing gender pay, earnings and pension gaps,

–  having regard to the reports of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) entitled ‘The gender employment gap: challenges and solutions’ (2016),’Work-life balance: creating solutions for everyone’ (2016), ‘Social partners and gender equality in Europe’ (2014), and ‘Developments in working life in Europe: EurWORK annual review’ (2014 and 2015), and to the Sixth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) (2016),

–  having regard to the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention of 1951, the ILO Part-Time Work Convention of 1994, the ILO Home Work Convention of 1996, the ILO Maternity Protection Convention of 2000 and the ILO Domestic Workers Convention of 2011,

–  having regard to the Agreed Conclusions of 24 March 2017 of the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), entitled ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment of September 2016 entitled ‘Leave no one behind: A call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment’,

–  having regard to the Beijing Platform for Action and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0271/2017),

A.  whereas the EU is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions;

B.  whereas women’s equal participation in the labour market and in economic decision-making are both preconditions for women’s empowerment and consequences of it;

C.  whereas across the EU women remain considerably under-represented in the labour market and in management, with the overall employment rate of women still being almost 12 % lower than that of men;

D.  whereas primary barriers to women’s economic empowerment include adverse social norms, discriminatory laws or lack of legal protection, failure to equally share unpaid household work and care between men and women, and lack of access to financial, digital and property assets; whereas these barriers can be further exacerbated by intersecting discrimination(22), such as on grounds of race and ethnicity, religion, disability, health, gender identity, sexual orientation and/or socio-economic conditions;

E.  whereas structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment are the result of multiple and intersecting forms of inequalities, stereotypes and discrimination in the private and public spheres;

F.  whereas economic empowerment of women is ‘right and smart’ at the same time, first of all as it is an essential dimension of gender equality and thus a matter of fundamental human rights and second as the higher participation of women in the labour market contributes to sustainable economic development at all levels of society; whereas companies that value women and enable them to participate fully in the labour market and in decision-making are more prosperous and help to boost productivity and economic growth; whereas evidence by the European Gender Equality Institute (EIGE) indicates that improvements to gender equality would generate up to 10,5 million additional jobs by 2050 in the EU, that the EU employment rate would reach almost 80 % and that EU GDP per capita could increase by between 6,1 % and 9,6 % and boost growth by between 15 % and 45 % in the Member States by 2050;

G.  whereas the Europe 2020 strategy establishes among the EU’s targets achieving 75 % of men and women in employment by 2020 and, in particular, closing the gender gap in employment; whereas coordinated efforts will be required to facilitate women’s labour market participation;

H.  whereas in late 2015 the Commission released the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020, with women’s economic rights and empowerment as one of four ‘pivotal areas’ for action;

I.  whereas ‘reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women’ is one of the priorities defined by the Commission in its document ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’;

J.  whereas targets are set for women’s economic empowerment across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

K.  whereas an effective work-life balance has a positive impact on progressing towards an ‘equal earner/equal carer’ model between women and men, as well as on health aspects, and promotes an inclusive economic environment, growth, competitiveness, overall labour market participation, gender equality, a reduced risk of poverty, and intergenerational solidarity, and also helps address the challenges of an ageing society;

L.  whereas Eurostat findings reveal that in the EU 31,5 % of working women work part-time compared with 8,2 % of working men, and whereas just over 50 % of women work full-time, compared with 71,2 % of men, representing a full-time employment rate gap of 25,5 %; whereas caring responsibilities are reasons for inactivity for almost 20 % of economically inactive women, while this is only the case for less than 2 % of economically inactive men; whereas caring responsibilities and difficulties arising from combining work and private life mean that women are far more likely to work part-time or be economically inactive than men, which has a negative impact on their wages and pension-related income;

M.  whereas the majority of the recipients of care are usually the children, older family members or family members with disabilities of unpaid caregivers;

N.  whereas women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men;

O.  whereas maternity should not be seen as an obstacle to women’s professional development and consequently to their emancipation;

P.  whereas women and men have equal rights and duties in relation to parenthood (with the exception of recovery after giving birth), bearing in mind that bringing up children should be shared and should therefore not be assigned exclusively to mothers;

Q.  whereas in 2015 the average employment rate for women with one child under the age of six was nearly 9 % lower than that for women without young children, and whereas in some Member States the difference exceeded 30 %;

R.  whereas maternity and parenthood are not acceptable grounds for discrimination against women in relation to accessing and remaining in the labour market;

S.  whereas a publicly accessible wage-mapping framework including data collection should be established with the aim of eliminating the gender pay gap by putting pressure on both the public and private sectors to assess their payment structures and redress any gender-based differences that are found, and has the potential to create a ‘culture of awareness’ which makes it socially unacceptable to have a gender pay gap in a sector or company;

T.  whereas quotas have been found to improve the performance of private companies and boost wider economic growth, in addition to bringing about better use of the talent pool in the labour force;

U.  whereas gender equality and diversity in worker representation in companies at board level is a key democratic principle which has positive economic impacts, among them inclusive strategic decision-making and reducing the gender pay gap;

V.  whereas OECD studies have shown that companies with more women on their boards experience greater profitability compared to those with all-male boards;

W.  whereas typically female-dominated sectors or roles are generally characterised by lower wages than comparable sectors or roles which are male-dominated, constituting a component of the gender pay and pension gaps, which currently stand at 16 % and 40 % respectively;

X.  whereas the ILO has developed a framework in which jobs are assessed on the basis of four factors: qualifications, effort, responsibility and working conditions, and are weighted according to their importance for the company or organisation in question;

Y.  whereas social partners have the potential to strengthen women’s economic empowerment through collective bargaining, by promoting equal pay between women and men, investing in work-life balance, encouraging women’s career development in companies, and offering information and education in the field of workers’ rights;

Z.  whereas evidence attests that wage inequalities are smaller where collective bargaining is strong(23);

AA.  whereas according to Eurostat 24.4 % of women in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, while single mothers, women over 55 and women with disabilities are at particular risk of unemployment and inactivity in the labour market;

AB.  whereas implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is a prerequisite for women’s empowerment and thus gender equality; whereas gender-based violence is an unacceptable form of discrimination and a violation of fundamental rights, affecting not only women’s health and wellbeing, but also their access to employment and financial independence; whereas violence against women is one of the main impediments to gender equality, while education has the potential to reduce the risk of gender-based violence; whereas the subsequent social and economic empowerment can help women to escape situations of violence; whereas workplace violence and harassment, including sexism and sexual harassment, has serious negative consequences for all workers affected, their co-workers and their families, as well as the organisations they work in and society as a whole and may be partly responsible for women dropping out of the labour market;

AC.  whereas economic violence is a form of gender-based violence occurring in women’s everyday life, which hinders women from fulfilment of their right to freedom, reproduces gender inequality and neglects women’s role in society at large;

AD.  whereas many studies have clearly shown that cutbacks in the public sector have had a huge negative impact on women, their economic empowerment and gender equality;

AE.  whereas education, qualifications and the acquisition of skills are essential to the empowerment of women on the social, cultural and economic level, and educational opportunities are recognised as a core element for combating inequalities such as under-representation in decision-making and managerial posts and in the fields of engineering and science, thus improving the economic empowerment of women and girls;

AF.  whereas digitalisation has positive effects in terms of shaping new job opportunities and inducing a constructive shift towards more flexible work patterns, particularly for women entering or re-entering the labour market, and also in terms of achieving a better balance between caring activity and professional life for both women and men;

I.General considerations

1.  Considers that women’s economic participation and empowerment are key for strengthening their fundamental rights, enabling them to reach economic independence, to exert influence in society and to have control over their lives, while also breaking the glass ceilings preventing them from being treated equally to men in working life; encourages, therefore, the economic empowerment of women through political and financial means;

2.  Emphasises that the strengthening of women´s rights and economic empowerment means that it is necessary to address the deep-rooted unequal gender power-relations that give rise to discrimination and violence against women and girls, as well as against LGBTI persons, and that gender power structures interact with other forms of discrimination and inequality such as those related to race, disability, age and gender identity;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure equality and non-discrimination in the workplace for all;

4.  Calls on the Member States to fully implement both the Employment Equality Directive and Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity; calls on the Commission to ensure better application of these directives;

5.  Points out that the low female employment rates and women’s exclusion from employment have a negative impact on women’s economic empowerment; highlights that the total yearly economic costs of the lower female employment rate, taking into account forgone earnings, missed welfare contributions and additional public finance costs, corresponded to 2,8 % of the EU’s GDP, or EUR 370 billion, in 2013 as estimated by Eurofound, while the cost of a woman’s exclusion from employment is estimated by the EIGE at between EUR 1,2 and 2 million, depending on her level of education;

6.  Stresses that women’s economic empowerment and equal opportunities in the labour market are first of all crucial for women individually, but are also instrumental for the EU’s economic growth, with a positive impact on GDP, inclusiveness and the competitiveness of businesses, while also helping to address challenges related to the ageing population in the EU; points out that, according to a 2009 study, the EU’s GDP could theoretically increase by almost 27 % assuming a labour market in full gender balance;

II.Actions and tools for improving the economic empowerment of women

Improved work-life balance

7.  Notes that, in response to Parliament’s call for work-life balance to be improved, the Commission has issued non-legislative proposals and a legislative proposal creating several types of leave in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century; stresses that the proposals made by the Commission are a good first step towards meeting the expectations of European citizens, as they will allow women and men to share occupational, family and social responsibilities more evenly, especially where care of dependants and childcare are concerned; calls on all institutions to deliver on this package as soon as possible;

8.  Calls on the Member States to step up protection against discrimination and unlawful dismissal related to work-life balance and to ensure access to justice and legal action; calls on the Commission to step up the monitoring, transposition and implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation, launch infringement procedures where necessary, and promote compliance by, among other means, information campaigns to increase awareness of legal rights to equal treatment;

9.  Stresses that remuneration and social security contributions should continue to be paid during leave;

10.  Calls on the Member States to guarantee rest leave to parents of children with disabilities, paying particular attention to single mothers and on the basis of an examination of best practices;

11.  Urges Member States to invest in informal after-school play-centred learning facilities that could provide support for children after school and crèche hours in particular, as a way of responding to the gap between school and business hours;

12.  Insists that achieving the Barcelona targets and the introduction of care targets for dependent and ageing members of society, including accessible, affordable and quality childcare and other care, facilities and services, as well as independent living policies for people with disabilities, is indispensable for Member States to be able to reach the Europe 2020 targets; recalls that investing in social infrastructure, such as childcare, not only has considerable employment effects, but also generates significant additional income for the public sector in employment taxes and savings in respect of unemployment insurance; emphasises, in that connection, the need for childcare facilities to be available throughout rural areas, and encourages Member States to promote investment in the provision of lifelong accessible and affordable quality care services, including care for children, dependents and the elderly; believes that adequate childcare should be available and affordable also to enable parents to access lifelong learning opportunities;

13.  Underlines the crucial role of high-quality public services, especially for women; underlines the importance of universal access to high-quality, affordable, conveniently located and demand-driven public services as a tool to ensure women’s economic empowerment;

14.  Notes the current incoherence between the achievements of the Member States and the goals set out within the Barcelona targets, and urges the Commission to closely monitor the measures taken by the Member States in order to ensure that they fulfil their obligations;

15.  Is convinced that the engagement of men in caring responsibilities is a precondition for changing the traditional stereotypes related to gender roles; further believes that both genders and the whole of society will benefit from a fairer distribution of unpaid work and from more equal take-up of leave related to care; is convinced that an equal-earner-equal-carer model is the most effective for achieving gender equality in all areas of life;

16.  Calls on the Member States to pursue specific and active employment and training policies in order to support the return to work of women who have put their careers on hold to look after dependants;

17.  Emphasises that a better work-life balance and greater equality between women and men are essential for achieving the goals of women’s empowerment; stresses that a better work-life balance would ensure a fairer distribution of paid and unpaid work within families, increase women’s participation in the labour market and, accordingly, reduce the gender pay and pension gap;

18.  Stresses the importance of good and secure working conditions allowing both women and men to reconcile work and private life, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote the strengthening of labour rights, collective bargaining and increased gender equality;

19.  Strongly encourages the promoting of the individualisation of the right to leave arrangements, the non-transferability between parents of their entitlements to parental leave, and the equal distribution of care-related tasks between both parents, with a view to achieving gender-balanced reconciliation of work and private life;

20.  Calls on the Commission to finance studies on the analysis of the amount and value of unpaid family care work performed by women and men and the average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work, with particular reference to caring for the elderly, children and people with disabilities;

21.  Calls for the development of a framework for employee-oriented flexible employment models for women and men, accompanied by adequate social protection, in order to make it easier to maintain a balance between personal and professional responsibilities; believes, at the same time, that workers’ rights and the right to secure employment must come before any increase in flexibility in the labour market, so as to ensure that flexibility does not increase precarious, undesirable and insecure forms of work and employment and does not undermine employment standards which currently concern women more than men, understanding precarious employment as that which does not comply with international, national or EU standards and laws and/or does not provide sufficient resources for a decent life or adequate social protection, such as discontinuous employment, the majority of temporary contracts, zero-hours contracts or involuntary part-time work; also stresses the need to create conditions to guarantee the right to return from voluntary part-time work to full time employment;

Equal pay for equal work of equal value and wage mapping

22.  Recalls that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is enshrined and defined in Article 157 of the TFEU and needs to be applied effectively by the Member States; insists, in this context, that the Commission recommendation on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency should be used to closely monitor the situation in Member States and draw up progress reports, also with the support of social partners, and encourages the Member States and the Commission to set out and implement the relevant policies in line with this recommendation with a view to eliminating the persistent gender pay gap;

23.  Calls on the Member States and companies to respect pay parity and introduce binding measures as regards pay transparency in order to create methods for companies to tackle the issue of the gender pay gap, including through pay audits and the inclusion of equal pay measures in collective bargaining; highlights the importance of providing adequate training on employment non-discrimination legislation and case law for employees of national, regional and local authorities and law enforcement bodies and labour inspectors;

24.  Underlines the need to recognise and re-evaluate typically female-dominated work, such as that in the health, social and teaching sectors, as compared to typically male-dominated work;

25.  Expresses its conviction that achieving equal pay for male and female workers for equal work of equal value requires a clear framework of specific job evaluation tools with comparable indicators to assess ‘value’ in jobs or sectors;

26.  Recalls that in line with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, the value of work should be assessed and compared on the basis of objective criteria, such as educational, professional and training requirements, skills, efforts and responsibility, work undertaken and the nature of the tasks involved;

27.  Highlights the importance of the principle of gender neutrality in job evaluation and classification systems in both the public and private sectors; welcomes the efforts of Member States to promote policies that prevent discrimination in recruitment, and encourages them to promote gender-blind CVs to discourage companies and public administrations from operating gender bias during their recruitment processes; calls on the Commission to explore the possibility of developing an anonymised ‘Europass CV’; suggests that Member States draw up programmes to combat social and gender stereotypes, particularly among younger population groups, as a means of preventing an occupational categorisation of job scales that frequently restricts women’s access to the highest-paid positions and jobs;

Gender balance in public and private sectors

28.  Considers that quotas in the public sector may be necessary where public institutions do not fulfil their responsibility to ensure fair representation, and could thus improve the democratic legitimacy of decision-making institutions;

29.  Notes that the use of gender quotas and zipped lists in political decision-making have proven most effective tools in addressing discrimination and gender power imbalances and improving democratic representation in political decision-making bodies;

30.  Calls on the Commission to improve the collection, analysis and dissemination of comprehensive, comparable and reliable and regularly updated data on women’s participation in decision-making;

31.  Calls on the EU institutions to encourage women’s participation in the European electoral process by including gender-balanced lists in the next revision of the European electoral law;

32.  Reiterates its call on the Council for swift adoption of the directive on gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies, as an important first step towards equal representation in the public and private sectors, and notes that corporate boards with more women have been found to improve the performance of private companies; notes also that progress is most tangible (from 11,9 % in 2010 to 22,7 % in 2015) in Member States in which binding legislation on quotas for boards has been adopted(24); urges the Commission to maintain pressure on the Member States to find an agreement;

Gender equality plans

33.  Acknowledges that the Commission supports the adoption of gender equality plans by research-performing and research-funding organisations;

34.  Notes that gender equality plans on a company or sectorial level may contain multiple human resource measures addressing recruitment, pay, promotion, training and work-life balance; that they often include concrete measures such as use of gender-neutral language, prevention of sexual harassment, appointment of the under-represented gender to top positions, part-time work and participation of fathers in childcare, and that a variety of approaches exist in Member States regarding the mandatory introduction of such measures;

35.  Recognises that the adoption of gender equality plans and gender audits in the private sector may foster a positive, work-life balance-friendly image of companies and help increase employee motivation and reduce staff turnover; invites the Commission, therefore, to encourage companies with more than 50 employees to negotiate gender equality plans with social partners with a view to enhancing gender equality and combating discrimination in the workplace; calls for these gender equality plans to include a strategy to address, prevent and eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace;

Collective agreements and social partners

36.  Expresses its conviction that social partners and collective agreements have the potential to promote gender equality, to empower women through unity and to combat gender pay inequalities; emphasises that ensuring equal and appropriate representation of women and men in collective bargaining teams is essential for promoting women’s economic empowerment, and therefore considers that social partners should strengthen the position of women within their social partnership structure in leading decision-making roles and negotiate gender equality plans at company and sectorial level;

37.  Encourages the Commission to work with social partners and civil society in order to strengthen them in their key role of detecting discriminatory gender bias in the setting of wage scales and in providing job evaluations which are free of gender bias;

III.Recommendations on enhancing economic empowerment of women

38.  Is of the view that economic models and practices, tax policies and spending priorities, especially during crises, should include a gender perspective, take women into account as economic actors and aim to close gender gaps to the benefit of citizens, businesses and society as a whole, and reiterates in this context that the economic crises have disadvantaged women in particular;

39.  Calls for reforms to increase gender equality both in family life and on the labour market;

40.  Notes that women in general have careers without significant progression; calls on the Member States to encourage and support women so that they can have successful careers, including through positive actions such as networking and mentoring programmes, as well as by creating suitable conditions and ensuring equal opportunities with men at all ages for training, advancement, reskilling and retraining, as well as pension rights and unemployment benefits that are equal to those applicable to men;

41.  Encourages the Member States, on the basis of the provisions of Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement(25) (the Public Procurement Directive), to promote the use of social clauses in public procurement as a tool for enhancing equality between women and men, where relevant national legislation exists and can be used as a basis for social clauses;

42.  Stresses the need to combat all forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, such as rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment and forced early/child marriage, as well as the phenomenon of economic violence; draws attention to the very worrying high levels of sexual harassment in the workplace(26), and underlines that, in order for women’s empowerment to succeed, the workplace needs to be free from all forms of discrimination and violence; calls for the EU and the Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention without reservations and organise public awareness and information campaigns on violence against women, and to encourage the exchange of good practices; notes that women’s economic independence plays a crucial role in their ability to escape situations of violence; calls on the Member States, therefore, to provide social protection systems to support women in this situation;

43.  Reiterates that women’s individual, social and economic empowerment and independence is interlinked with the right to decide over their own bodies and sexuality; recalls that universal access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights is a crucial driving force in enhancing equality for all;

44.  Welcomes the conclusions of the 61st session of the CSW on ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’, which, for the first time, make a direct and explicit link between women’s economic empowerment and their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; regrets, however that comprehensive sexuality education was omitted entirely from the agreement;

45.  Notes that women constitute 52 % of the total European population, but only one third of self-employed workers or of all business starters in the EU; notes also that women face more difficulties than men in access to finance, training, networking and maintaining a work-life balance; encourages the Member States to promote measures and actions to assist and advise women who decide to become entrepreneurs, while stressing that financial independence is key to achieving equality; calls on the Member States to facilitate access to credit, cut red tape and remove other obstacles vis-à-vis women’s start-ups; calls on the Commission to intensify its work with the Member States to identify and remove barriers to women’s entrepreneurship and to encourage more women to start their own businesses, including through improving access to finance, market research, training and networks for business purposes, such as the WEgate Platform for women entrepreneurs and other European networks;

46.  Highlights that improving digital skills and IT literacy among women and girls and boosting their inclusion in the ICT sector could contribute to their economic empowerment and independence, resulting in a reduction in the total gender pay gap; calls on the Member States and the Commission to advance their efforts to put an end to the digital divide between men and women as mentioned in the Europe 2020 Digital Agenda, by increasing women’s access to the information society, with a particular focus on better female visibility in the digital sector;

47.  Points out that women account for almost 60 % of graduates in the EU but, on account of persistent hindering factors, remain under-represented in science, mathematics, IT, engineering and related careers; invites the Member States and the Commission to promote, through information and awareness-raising campaigns, the participation of women in sectors traditionally viewed as ‘male’, notably the sciences and new technologies, among others, by mainstreaming gender equality in the digital agenda for the forthcoming years, as well as promoting the participation of men in sectors traditionally viewed as ‘female’, notably care and education; stresses the importance of extending social protection in sectors where women make up the majority of the workforce, as in the cases of personal care workers, cleaners and helpers, catering staff and health associate professionals, among others; highlights the importance of vocational education and training (VET) in diversifying career choices and introducing women and men to non-traditional career opportunities so as to overcome horizontal and vertical exclusion and to increase the numbers of women in decision-making bodies in political and business spheres;

48.  Asks the Member States for legislative and non-legislative measures to guarantee the economic and social rights of workers in the so-called feminised sectors; highlights the importance of preventing the over-representation of women in precarious employment, and recalls the need to combat the precarious nature of these sectors, such as domestic work or caring; recognises that domestic work and the provision of household services, which are largely feminised, are often performed as undeclared work; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote and further develop the formal sector of domestic services also through the European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work, and to recognise household services, family employment and home care as constituting a valuable economic sector with a job creation potential which needs to be better regulated within the Member States, with a view both to creating secure positions for domestic workers and to providing families with the capacity to assume their role as employers, as well as opportunities for reconciliation of private and professional life for working families;

49.  Stresses the importance of education in combating gender stereotypes; calls, therefore, on the Commission to promote initiatives developing training programmes on gender equality for education professionals, and preventing stereotypes from being passed on through curricula and pedagogical material;

50.  Stresses the importance of gender mainstreaming as a fundamental tool in the design of gender-sensitive policies and legislation, including in the field of employment and social affairs, and therefore for ensuring women’s economic empowerment; calls on the Commission to introduce systematic gender impact assessments; reaffirms its call on the Commission to enhance the status of its ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ by adopting it as a communication; calls on the Commission to introduce gender-responsive budgeting in the next multiannual financial framework and to engage in increasingly rigorous scrutiny of EU budget-setting processes and expenditure, including taking steps to improve transparency and reporting around how funds are spent; further calls on the European Investment Bank to mainstream gender equality and women’s economic empowerment throughout its activities inside and outside the EU;

51.  Calls on the Member States to mainstream the gender perspective into their national skills and labour market policies and to include such measures in national action plans and as part of the European Semester, in line with the employment guidelines;

52.  Underlines the importance of offering lifelong learning to women in rural areas, including through, for example, inter-enterprise training courses; stresses the high proportion of self-employed workers in rural areas with a lack of appropriate social protection and the high proportion of ‘invisible’ work, which affects women in particular; calls on the Member States and regions with legislative powers, therefore, to ensure social security for both men and women working in rural areas; calls on the Member States also to facilitate equitable access to land, ensure ownership and inheritance rights, and facilitate access to credit for women;

53.  Points out that the rates of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion are higher among women than among men, and stresses, therefore, that measures to combat poverty and social exclusion have a particular impact on women’s economic empowerment; stresses that preventing and eliminating the gender pension gap and reducing women’s poverty in old age depend first and foremost on conditions being created for women to make equal pension contributions through further inclusion in the labour market and safeguarding equal opportunities in terms of pay, career advancement and possibilities to work full-time; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the ESI funds and the European Fund for Strategic Investments contribute to reducing women’s poverty with a view to achieving the overall Europe 2020 poverty reduction target; calls on the Member States to make sure that the allocated 20 % of ESF funding for social inclusion measures is also used to increase support to small local projects aimed at empowering women experiencing poverty and social exclusion;

54.  Notes that poverty continues to be measured on accumulated household income, which assumes that all members of the household earn the same and distribute resources equally; calls for individualised rights and calculations based on individual incomes in order to reveal the true extent of women’s poverty;

55.  Notes that women have been the most affected by austerity measures and cuts in the public sector (less and more expensive childcare, reduced services for the elderly and people with disabilities, privatisation and closure of hospitals), in particular in areas such as education, health and social work, as they represent 70 % of the public-sector workforce;

56.  Stresses the importance of paying attention to the specific needs and multifaceted challenges of certain vulnerable groups which face particular barriers to entry to the labour market; calls on the Member States to ensure, for these individuals, early and easy access to quality training, including internships, in order to ensure their full integration into our societies and the labour market, taking into consideration existing informal and formal skills and competences, talents and know-how; calls on the Member States to take up measures to prevent the intersectional discrimination that particularly affects women in vulnerable situations; emphasises how important it is that Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation, as well as Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(27), are implemented correctly;

57.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to enforce and improve the practical application of the existing laws and workplace policies, and to improve those laws and policies where appropriate, in order to protect women from direct and indirect discrimination, particularly as regards the selection, hiring, retention, vocational training and promotion of women in employment in both the public and private sectors, and to offer women equal opportunities in terms of pay and career advancement;

58.  Strongly deplores the fact that the Council has still not adopted the 2008 proposal for a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; welcomes the prioritisation of this directive by the Commission; reiterates its call on the Council to adopt the proposal as soon as possible;

59.  Calls on the Commission to improve the collection of specific gender indicators and gender-disaggregated data in order to estimate the gender equality impact of Member States and EU policies;

60.  Stresses that women are disproportionately and often involuntarily concentrated in precarious work; urges the Member States to implement the ILO recommendations intended to reduce the scale of precarious work, such as restricting the circumstances in which precarious contracts can be used and limiting the length of time workers can be employed on such a contract;

61.  Calls on the EIGE to continue its work of compiling gender-specific data and establishing scoreboards in all relevant policy areas;

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62.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(2) OJ L 180, 15.7.2010, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 348, 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 137 E, 27.5.2010, p. 68.
(5) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 163.
(6) OJ L 353, 28.12.2013, p. 7.
(7) OJ C 436, 24.11.2016, p. 225.
(8) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 18.
(9) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 110.
(10) OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 39.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0203.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0226.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0235.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0338.
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0360.
(16) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0351.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0029.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.
(19) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0099.
(20) 3073rd Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 7 March 2011.
(21) OJ L 69, 8.3.2014, p. 112.
(22) UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment: ‘Leave no one behind: A call to action for gender equality and economic women’s empowerment’ (September 2016).
(23) See: ‘The European Trade Union Confederation’, ‘Collective bargaining: our powerful tool to close the gender gap’ (2015).
(24) See: European Commission Fact sheet ‘Gender balance on corporate boards – Europe is cracking the glass ceiling’, October 2015; European Commission, DG JUST, ‘Women in economic decision-making in the EU: Progress report: A Europe 2020 initiative’, 2012; Aagoth Storvik and Mari Teigen, ‘Women on Board: The Norwegian Experience’, June 2010.
(25) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.
(26) FRA survey on violence against women.
(27) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.

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