The EU’s new post-2015 gender equality strategy needs clearer targets, practical actions and more effective monitoring to make real headway against discrimination in the labour market, education and decision-making, says a non-binding resolution adopted on Tuesday.
Parliament also says specific actions are needed to strengthen the rights of women with disabilities, migrant and ethnic minority women, Roma women, older women, single mothers and LGBTI.
The resolution was adopted by 341votes to 281, with 81 abstentions.
The rapporteur, Maria Noichl (S&D, DE), said: “Despite our differences, MEPs focused on our key aim: to finally achieve real gender equality in Europe.” She added: "The resolution will serve as a good, balanced and forward-looking basis for a new women's rights and gender equality strategy for all women and men in the EU.”
Fight new forms of violence against women
MEPs call on the Commission to propose new laws containing binding measures to protect women from violence and want all member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible. They say special attention must be paid to new forms of violence against women and girls such as cyber-harassment, cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying. Furthermore, feminisation of poverty might lead to an increase in female trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution and member states should therefore find ways to discourage demand and establish programmes to exit from prostitution, says the text.
Balancing family and working life
Adequate maternity, paternity and parental leave are needed to increase female employment rates. Parents also need affordable, quality child-care services that are compatible with full-time working hours of both men and women.
MEPs stress the importance of flexible forms of work in allowing women and men to reconcile work and family life according to their own choice.
Member states need to combat precarious and undeclared employment of women, MEPs say, as it contributes to increased poverty among women. The Commission and the member states should take appropriate measures to reduce the gender pay and pension gap, says the text.
More women in top positions
MEPs ask the Council to reach a common position on a quota for women as soon as possible as this has proved successful in countries that have already introduced compulsory quotas. They also call on national and EU authorities to ensure equality within their own decision-making bodies by proposing both a female and a male candidate for high-level positions.
Health and education
Parliament calls for high-quality and readily accessible services in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights and safe and legal abortion and contraception, saying that women have the right to control their own bodies. Sex education programmes should be implemented in schools, says the text.
Integrating gender perspective within and outside the EU
MEPs call on member states to promote a balanced, non-stereotypical image of women in the media and advertising.
Combating bullying and prejudice against LGBTI persons in schools should be part of the EU's efforts to combat gender stereotypes, say MEPs. Education and empowerment also play an important role in combating gender stereotypes and ending gender-based discrimination.
The EU should provide a role model for gender equality and women’s rights within and outside EU borders. The gender perspective and the fight against gender violence should be integrated in EU foreign, development and trade policy, says the text.
Parliament calls on the Commission to promote the use of gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting and gender impact assessment in all areas and for each legislative proposal at all levels of governance.
Similarly, member states should introduce the gender dimension in their budgets in order to analyse government programmes and policies, their impact on the allocation of resources and their contribution to equality between men and women, says the text.
Procedure: non legislative resolution
55 % of women have experienced one or more forms of sexual harassment in the course of their lives and 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15
the female employment rate is 63%, whereas the gender pay gap stands at 16.4% and the gender pension gap is 39% on average
18% of women in the EU have experienced stalking since the age of 15, and one in five victims of stalking says that the abusive behaviour continued for two years or longer
equal participation of men and women in the labour market could significantly increase the economic potential of the EU, while confirming its fair and inclusive nature; according to OECD projections, total convergence in participation rates would result in a 12.4% increase in per capita GDP by 2030
the gender pay gap stands at 16.4% and the pension gap at 39%
women account for 60% of new graduates but are under-represented in, for example, the science and research sector
women constitute 52% of the total European population, but only one-third of the self-employed or of all business start-ups in the EU