The committee called on the European Commission to back any move to establish an EU-wide entitlement to paternity leave, and said that maternity and paternity leave should be linked so as to afford better protection to women in labour market.
Eradicating violence against women
Violence against women, in all its forms, is a major hindrance to equality between women and men and one of the most widespread human rights violations, knowing no geographical, economic, cultural or social limits, said the report. MEPs congratulated the EU's Spanish Presidency on its plan to prioritise combating violence against women and invited future Council presidencies to do likewise.
The committee called for a European Year of combating violence against women, pointing out that almost one in four women in the EU suffer physical violence and more than 10% sexual violence.
The report endorses the Spanish Presidency's proposals to establish a European gender violence monitoring centre, introduce an EU-wide "European protection order" and a common EU-wide telephone helpline for victims.
Yet only 16 EU Member States have ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which is the strongest European legal instrument in the fight against trafficking in human beings, a modern form of slavery. MEPs back the infringement proceedings that the European Commission is taking to oblige Member States to transpose the relevant EU directives correctly into their national laws.
Supporting women's employment
MEPs noted that since 2000, the average gender pay gap has remained at 14%-17%, despite many measures taken to reduce it. They also pointed out that EU economic recovery projects focus on male-dominated employment, which tends to increase gender inequality rather than reducing it.
Although 58.9% of academics in the EU in 2008 were female and women also outnumber men in business, management and law, yet they are hardly represented in corporate positions of responsibility and political bodies, said the report.
Committee members called for binding targets to achieve gender equality in employment and asked Member States to take steps, notably through legislation, to encourage gender balance in corporate, administrative and political positions of responsibility.
The report approved in committee calls for awareness-raising campaigns to be run in schools, workplaces and the media to combat persistent sexist stereotyping and degrading images.
Women's rights charter
MEPs wish to see a European Charter of women's rights, to bring about real improvements in women's rights throughout the Union and to introduce machinery to ensure gender equality in all areas of social, economic and political life.
The report on Equality between women and men in the European Union - 2009, drafted by Marc Tarabella (S&D, BE) was approved in committee with 15 votes in favour, 5 against and 7 abstentions.
In the chair: Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL, SE)