Procedure : 2009/2242(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0156/2010

Texts tabled :

A7-0156/2010

Debates :

PV 15/06/2010 - 16
CRE 15/06/2010 - 16

Votes :

PV 17/06/2010 - 7.7
CRE 17/06/2010 - 7.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2010)0232

REPORT     
PDF 244kWORD 149k
12 May 2010
PE 439.237v03-00 A7-0156/2010

on assessment of the results of the 2006-2010 Roadmap for Equality between women and men, and forward-looking recommendations

(2009/2242(INI))

Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

Rapporteur: Ilda Figueiredo

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on assessment of the results of the 2006-2010 Roadmap for Equality between women and men, and forward-looking recommendations

(2009/2242(INI))

The European Parliament,

–         having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–         having regard to Article 23 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–        having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Roadmap for equality between women and men: 2006-2010’ (COM(2006)0092)(1),

         having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2008 entitled ‘Mid-term progress report on the roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010)’ (COM(2008)0760),

–        having regard to the Commission report of 18 December 2009 entitled ‘Equality between women and men – 2010’ (COM(2009)0694),

–        having regard to the Commission communication of 7 June 2000 entitled ‘Towards a Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005)’ (COM(2000)0335) and to the Commission’s annual reports on equality between women and men in the EU for the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 (respectively, (COM(2001)0179, COM(2002)0258, COM(2003)0098, COM(2004)0115, COM(2005)0044, COM(2006)0071, COM(2007)0049, COM(2008)0010 and COM(2009)0077),

–        having regard to the UN legal instruments in the sphere of human rights and more especially women’s rights, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the other UN instruments relating to violence against women, such as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights, and UN General Assembly resolutions 48/104 of 20 December 1993 on the elimination of violence against women, 58/147 of 19 February 2004 on the elimination of domestic violence against women, 57/179 of 30 January 2003 on working towards the elimination of crimes against women committed in the name of honour, and 52/86 of 2 February 1998 on crime prevention and criminal justice measures to eliminate violence against women,

–        having regard to the Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing from 4 to 15 September 1995, and to its resolutions of 18 May 2000 on ‘the follow-up to the Beijing Action Platform(2) and of 10 March 2005 on ‘the follow-up o the Fourth World Conference on Women – Platform for Action (Beijing + 10)’(3),

–        having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s in-depth study of 9 October 2006 on all forms of violence against women,

–        having regard to the final report of the 49th session of the UN General Assembly’s Commission on the Status of Women, published in March 2005,

–        having regard to the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the Maputo Protocol, which entered into force on 26 October 2005 and expressly stipulates that all forms of female genital mutilation must be prohibited,

–        having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on women and peace and security, which calls for women to be involved more widely both in the prevention of armed conflict and in peace-building,

         having regard to the Council of Europe’s work in this area, particularly the revised European Social Charter,

–        having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast)(4),

–        having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and repealing Directive 86/613/EEC (COM(2008)0636), submitted by the Commission on 3 October 2008,

–        having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/83/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding (COM(2008)0637), submitted by the Commission on 3 October 2008,

–        having regard to the Commission report of 3 October 2008 entitled ‘Implementation of the Barcelona objectives concerning childcare facilities for pre-school-age children’ (COM(2008)0638),

–        having regard to the May 2003 report by the Commission’s Joint Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men on gender mainstreaming in national budgets,

–        having regard to the Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities and its opinion on the gender pay gap, adopted on 22 March 2007,

–         having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2006 on strategies to prevent the trafficking of women and children who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation(5),

–         having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2006 on ‘women’s immigration: the role and place of immigrant women in the European Union’(6),

–         having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality, adopted by the European Council of 23 and 24 March 2006,

–         having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2007 on ‘a roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010)’(7),

–         having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2008 on the role of women in industry(8),

         having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2008 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development Cooperation(9),

–         having regard to its resolution of 3 September 2008 on ‘Equality between women and men – 2008’(10),

–         having regard to its resolution of 18 November 2008 with recommendations to the Commission on the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women(11),

         having regard to its resolutions of 24 February 1994(12) and 13 October 2005(13) on women and poverty in Europe, and its resolution of 3 February 2009 on non-discrimination based on sex and inter-generational solidarity(14),

–         having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on Social Economy(15),

–         having regard to its resolution of 26 November 2009 on the elimination of violence against women(16),

–         having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2010 on preventing trafficking in human beings(17),

–         having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2010 on ‘equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009’(18),

–         having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–         having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0156/2010),

A.       whereas, although equality between women and men is a necessary requirement for the full enjoyment of our universal human rights and a fundamental EU principle that has long been recognised in the Treaties, significant inequalities continue to make themselves felt in day-to-day politics and in women’s lives,

B.       whereas gender equality policies constitute an instrument of economic development and social cohesion,

C.       whereas gender equality must be a mark of European cultural and political identity,

D.       whereas violence against women is a major obstacle to gender equality and is one of the most widespread human rights violations, knowing no geographical, financial or social barriers; whereas the number of women who are victims of violence is alarming,

E.        whereas we cannot continue to be tied to worn-out, environmentally unsustainable economic models based on an outdated sexual division of labour that has been superseded by women’s absorption into the labour market; whereas we need a new and socially sustainable model based on knowledge and innovation, which incorporates the full range of women’s skills into the economy, restores the balance of responsibilities between men and women in public and in private and provides a good work-life balance,

F.        whereas, although the 2006-2010 Roadmap for Equality has highlighted gaps in the achievement of full gender equality and, in some cases, driven the gender equality agenda forward, overall progress has been insufficient,

G.       whereas efforts to mainstream the gender perspective into public policy need to be stepped up,

H.       whereas, although it is still difficult to assess the full impact of the financial crisis, it is clear that the current economic and social crisis is having particularly serious consequences for women and for the long-term advancement of policies aimed at achieving equality between women and men, thereby exacerbating inequalities and discrimination,

I.         whereas gender equality has a positive impact on economic productivity and growth, and women's participation in the labour market has a host of social and economic benefits,

J.        whereas in our ageing society women will be indispensable to the labour market, while at the same time demand for care for the elderly will rise, most likely leading to the risk of a double burden for women,

K.       whereas those living in poverty – more than 85 million in all – are for the most part women, a situation brought about by unemployment, casual labour, low wages, pensions below the minimum subsistence level, and the widespread difficulty of obtaining access to good public services; whereas, moreover, in the past 10 years the number of women in poverty has risen disproportionately compared with the number of men,

L.        whereas in terms of average wages there is a gender pay gap of more than 17% ,leading to a pension gap and the feminisation of poverty in old age, and whereas indirect forms of discrimination tend to increase when unemployment is rising, thereby affecting women and girls,

M.      whereas there is a persistent gender care gap, with women providing double to more than triple the number of hours of unpaid care for children and other dependants compared with men,

N.       whereas women are often exposed to multiple discrimination because of their sex, age (especially in the case of older women), disability, ethnic/racial background, religion, national origin, migration status, socio-economic status, including women in single-person households, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and whereas compound discrimination creates multiple barriers to women’s empowerment and social advancement,

O.       whereas it is essential to guarantee equal access to resources, rights and power, implying a need to bring about social and cultural change, eliminate stereotypes and promote equality,

P.        whereas the stereotypes which still exist with regard to the educational and occupational options available to women help to preserve inequalities,

Q.       whereas sectoral and occupational segregation by gender is not diminishing, but actually rising in some countries,

R.       whereas family law (notably marriage and divorce law) often puts women in a weaker legal and financial position, and whereas courts sometimes add to the inequalities between men and women by applying family law on the basis of traditional role models instead of equal rights,

S.        whereas the right to conscientious objection is often abused by (religious) groups in order to reduce women’s rights in areas such as health care and family law,

T.        whereas women’s participation in decision-making is a decisive indicator of gender equality, whereas there are still not many women in management posts in businesses and universities and whereas the number of female politicians and researchers is rising only very slowly,

U.       whereas existing challenges and the experience acquired suggest that the lack of policy coherence between different areas has hampered the achievement of equality between women and men in the past and that women’s rights need to be adequately resourced, coordinated more closely, publicised more widely and promoted more effectively, allowing for individual circumstances,

V.       whereas affirmative action in favour of women has proven essential for their full incorporation into the labour market and society in general,

W.      whereas, notwithstanding the decisions prompted by the 15th anniversary, there is still more work to do to translate the Beijing Platform for Action into reality,

X.       whereas gender-disaggregated data are an essential tool for achieving real progress and evaluating outcomes effectively,

Y.  whereas 2010 is the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, a fact which has to be reflected in policies and concerted action that genuinely help to improve the present situation,

Z.        whereas it is 100 years since 8 March was declared International Women’s Day, and this anniversary has been commemorated; whereas it is important for women and the organisations representing them to be involved in promoting equality and fighting discrimination and inequalities,

AA.    whereas the reconciliation of work, family and private life remains an unresolved issue for both women and men,

AB.     whereas access to childcare and services for the care of the elderly and other dependants is essential if men and women are to be able to participate in the labour market, education and training on an equal footing,

AC.    whereas, in most of the Member States, social security regimes do not take sufficient account of the specific circumstances of women who live in poverty; whereas the danger of being reduced to poverty is much greater for women; whereas the sharing of family and domestic duties between men and women, not least by developing the equal use of parental leave by both parents, along with paternity leave, is a precondition for promoting and achieving gender equality; and whereas not counting periods of maternity and parental leave towards aggregate working times is discriminatory and places women in a worse position on the labour market,

Assessment of the 2006-2010 Roadmap

1.        Notes that, in the field of equal economic independence for women and men, the employment rate among women has reached almost 60%, as set by the Lisbon employment targets; regrets, however, the lack of binding measures addressing the persistent gender pay gap, and points out the need for urgent measures to improve the situation of women in precarious working conditions, in particular migrant and ethnic minority women, who are becoming even more vulnerable in the context of the economic and social crisis; calls, furthermore, for a reduction in gender inequalities in the public health system, to which equal access must be ensured;

2.        Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposals aimed at enhancing the reconciliation of work and private and family life; notes, however, that paternity, adoption and filial leave have not been addressed, and regrets that only a minority of Member States have achieved the Barcelona objectives of providing access to affordable and quality childcare; therefore calls on the Member States to make a renewed commitment to this objective;

3.        Regrets that women are still under-represented in political and economic decision-making positions in the majority of Member States; calls on the Commission to continue with further concrete measures to promote equal participation of women and men in decision-making;

4.        Notes the actions the DAPHNE III programme to prevent and combat violence against women; reiterates, however, the need for legislative measures at European level to eradicate gender-based violence;

5.        Welcomes the integration of gender equality as a priority into Community education and training programmes, with the aim of reducing stereotypes in society; regrets, however, that persistent gender stereotypes still serve as a basis for many inequalities; therefore calls on the Commission and the Member States to launch awareness-raising campaigns to break down stereotypes and traditional gender roles, in particular campaigns targeting men which highlight the need to share family responsibilities;

6.        Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to the principles of the Millennium Development Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action with regard to promoting gender equality outside the EU; calls for the strengthening of gender mainstreaming in the EU’s development, external and external trade policies to be continued;

At institutional level

7.        Proposes that the EU’s new gender equality strategy constitute an agenda for action and a political commitment based on the Beijing Platform for Action and its achievements, bearing in mind that the human rights of women and girls form an inalienable, indivisible and integral part of universal human rights;

8.        Points out that it is still essential to pursue the current roadmap’s six priority areas of action, and calls on the Commission to introduce further concrete measures in order to ensure that the strengths of the existing roadmap can be further developed and thus visibly influence national and regional level instruments for achieving equality and women’s empowerment;

9.        Proposes that European funding should be granted for the new strategy for equality between women and men in order to facilitate its execution at European level;

10.      Maintains that the Council, after consulting Parliament, has to adopt the Commission’s proposed new gender equality strategy so as to give it greater political weight and provide fresh impetus for gender equality policy;

11.      Deplores the unsatisfactory way in which the gender perspective has been handled in the Commission’s EU 2020 strategy proposals, and therefore calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that the gender equality dimension is systematically presented in the EU 2020 strategy, including a specific gender chapter, mechanisms for gender mainstreaming and targets for female employment coupled with indicators of economic independence, and taking into account both the effects of the current social and economic crisis on women and the role of women in an ageing society;

12.      Proposes that the Council, the Commission, and Parliament hold an annual tripartite meeting to review progress on the EU gender equality strategy;

13.      Maintains that a conference on gender equality, attended by women’s organisations, trade unions from the Member States, Members of the European Parliament, the Commission, the Council and the national parliaments, should be held annually, focusing on a predetermined theme each year;

14.      Stresses the need for structured dialogue with civil society in order to ensure the principle of equality between women and men;

15.      Suggests that institutional cooperation in this area not be limited to women’s associations, but that collaboration with associations representing men and women be actively sought;

16.      Calls for the European Institute for Gender Equality to become fully operational without delay and for all the necessary gender indicators to be devised so that equality issues can be kept under review whenever they arise; insists that these indicators be regularly updated so that the objectives set can be brought into line with the results actually obtained;

17.      Takes the view that, where the social impact of Commission and Council policy proposals has to be assessed, such assessment should cover gender equality;

18.      Insists that the Commission should start practising the ‘gender mainstreaming’ method in the preparation of all its proposals;

19.      Calls on the Commission to improve and update regularly its gender equality webpage, and on the Equal Opportunities Group to devote at least one of its meetings each year entirely to gender equality and to set up an information service for women;

20.      Maintains that the Commission’s directorates-general need to incorporate strengthened coordination machinery into their internal operation in order to provide continuous follow-up to gender equality and equal opportunities policies spanning many different areas; calls for the Annual Report on Equality to include one chapter by each directorate-general in which it reports on equality in its area of competence;21.  Calls on the High Representative to ensure gender balance in the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and to draw up an action plan with a view to pursuing gender balance in the EU delegations, including at the highest level; calls on the Council and the Commission to open a post for a European women’s envoy, as already demanded by the European Parliament in March 2008, in order to focus specifically on the position of women in the context of the EU’s external policies, and calls for gender mainstreaming to be structurally embedded in the EEAS; calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States actively to promote and support the empowerment of women to participate in their bilateral and multilateral relations with states and organisations outside the Union;

22.      Calls on the High Representative to ensure that a gender perspective is incorporated into all development cooperation policies, programmes and projects, and stresses the importance of implementing UNSCR 1325 in the context of the EU’s external action;

23.      Maintains that gender equality policies in different fields of activity, including the economic, financial, commercial and social spheres, should be based on an integrated approach, and that budgets should be analysed from a gender equality perspective; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote the dissemination and exchange of good practice in order to encourage its being taken into consideration when policies are developed;

24.      Considers that the Commission and the Member States need to develop training and implementation tools to allow all stakeholders to take on board – in their respective areas of competence – a perspective based on equal opportunities for men and women, including assessments of the specific impact of policies on men and women;

25.      Stresses the importance, in the context of the strategies and plans for economic recovery, of adopting sectoral measures of a trend-setting nature to support education and training courses aimed at integrating women, including young women, into the labour market in sectors that are strategic for development and on the basis of positions and skills related to cutting-edge technology and science;

26.      Stresses the importance of devising quantity and quality indicators and gender-based statistics which are reliable, comparable and available when needed, to be used in monitoring the implementation of gender mainstreaming in all policies;

27.      Asks Eurostat to develop indicators to measure women’s and men’s involvement in voluntary activities in order to show what men and women contribute to social cohesion;

28.      Emphasises that better coordination is essential in order to develop equality policy objectives in all EU and Member State institutions, and that uniform tangible integration methods – such as gender budgets or incorporating gender analysis into the design, planning, implementation and monitoring of public policy – are needed;

29.      Points out to the Commission and the Member States that a dual strategy needs to be employed, applying an integrated approach to gender equality while continuing to take specific action, including legislative measures, as regards budget headings and allocations, follow-up and oversight, the aim being to produce practical effects; points out that an agenda for action should include short- and long-term qualitative and quantitative targets at both European and national level;

30.      Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to take the necessary steps to mainstream the gender perspective into all Community policies and to review existing legislation so as to ensure that gender equality is correctly applied and that positive discrimination measures can be applied where necessary;

31.      Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action with regard to promoting gender-sensitive budgets; calls EU and the Member States to make efforts systematically to review how women benefit from public-sector expenditure, and to adjust budgets to ensure equality of access to public-sector expenditure, for both enhancing productive capacity and meeting social needs; calls also for the allocation of sufficient resources, including resources for undertaking gender-impact analysis;

32.      Calls on the Commission to monitor Member States’ compliance with the non-discrimination directives and gender-related measures, and to take active steps, including infringement procedures, in the event of non-compliance;

33.      Calls for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Regulation to be amended to enable, as happens with the European Social Fund (ESF), proactive measures to be taken in support of women in the 2014-2020 programming period, which was feasible in previous periods but not in the current one, and which will have very beneficial effects on female employment in rural areas;

34.      Points to the need for the committees and parliamentary delegations within Parliament too to assign particular importance to equality issues and to ensure that women are adequately represented in positions of responsibility within these committees and delegations, and draws attention to the important work being done by Parliament’s High-Level Group on Equality;

35.      Welcomes, in this regard, the ongoing activities of Members of the European Parliament responsible for gender mainstreaming, who are working to ensure that the gender perspective is taken into account in the formulation and development of all policy within their individual committees;

36.      Calls on the Bureau of the European Parliament and on the Commission to step up efforts to increase the number of women in higher positions within their staff; calls on the Commission to devise a mechanism to ensure parity within the college of commissioners in the next legislature;

37.      Stresses the need to prevent the current financial and economic crisis, and future economic issues, from endangering what has been achieved so far in the field of gender equality, and to avoid the recession being used, as is already the case in some Member States, as an argument for scaling back gender equality measures, as in the long term this would hinder growth in employment figures, economic growth in the EU, higher tax revenue, rising birth rates and the promotion of gender equality;

38.      Calls on the Commission, in collaboration with the Member States and the social partners, to undertake a review of policies on work-life balance with a view to ensuring that the cost of parenthood is not borne by the employer, but by the community, so as to eradicate discriminatory behaviour in businesses and contribute to our demographic future;

39.      Reminds the Commission and the Member States that it is necessary to adopt affirmative measures for the benefit of women and men in order to facilitate their return to employment after a period of carrying out family duties (bringing up children and/or caring for a sick or handicapped parent), by promoting policies of (re)integration into the employment market with a view to enabling them to regain financial independence;

40.      Calls on the Commission to continue with initiatives aimed at recognising the informal economy and quantifying the ‘economics of life’, using gender-specific approaches in accordance with the ‘Beyond GDP’ project launched by the Commission;

41.      Calls on the Member States to provide appropriate social benefits for women and men who take care of elderly, sick or disabled relatives, and for elderly women, who receive particularly small pensions;

Policy areas – aims

42.      Points to the importance of building on the analysis of the Beijing Platform (Beijing + 15) undertaken by the Swedish Presidency, not just with a view to developing appropriate indicators, but also with a view to defining goals and adopting the necessary policies in the 12 areas covered;

43.      Invites the Commission to publish an impact analysis of the consequences, including the budgetary consequences, of the introduction of the ‘gender mainstreaming’ system, with a view to evaluating its relevance, effectiveness, durability and usefulness in terms of cost-effectiveness/added value, as is the regular practice in the case of all other European policies;

44.      Points to the need to improve the arrangements by which women’s organisations and civil society in general collaborate with and take part in gender perspective integration processes;

45.      Takes the view that one priority should be to fight poverty by reforming the macroeconomic, monetary, social and labour market policies that are its root causes, with a view to guaranteeing economic and social justice for women, by reconsidering the methods used to determine the poverty rate and by pursuing strategies to promote fair distribution of income, guarantee a minimum income and decent wages and pensions, create more high-quality jobs coupled with rights for women, enable women and girls to benefit from public services of a high standard, and improve welfare provision and neighbourhood services, including crèches, nursery schools, kindergartens, day centres, community leisure and family support centres and ‘intergenerational centres’, making these accessible to women, men, children and older people as a whole, with a particular focus on assistance for older women living alone;

46.      Stresses that the poorest women should be the leading partners in formulating, implementing and assessing equal opportunities policies; invites the Union, therefore, to pay particular attention to the planning and implementation of the European Year against Poverty, the European Year of Volunteering, and the Europe 2020 Strategy in general from this perspective;

47.      Emphasises the positive effect of gender equality on economic growth; points out in this respect that some studies estimate that, if the employment, part-time employment and productivity rates for women were similar to those for men, GDP would increase by 30%;

48.      Calls on the Member States to analyse the effects of measures to combat the crisis and future exit strategies from the point of view of gender equality;

49.      Calls on the Commission to eliminate gaps in the areas covered in order to ensure the same level of legal protection against gender-based discrimination as against discrimination on the basis of race, and to improve legal protection and access to legal remedies for victims of multiple discrimination;

50.      Maintains that measures need to be taken as a matter of urgency to combat wage discrimination, whether by revising the existing directive, by drawing up phased industry-wide plans with clear-cut goals – such as narrowing the pay gap to 0-5% by 2020 – aimed at doing away with direct and indirect forms of discrimination, or by encouraging collective bargaining and the training of equality advisers, addressing the unequal share of unpaid work between women and men and laying down equality plans for factories and other workplaces; takes the view that transparent wage composition should be standard practice with a view to strengthening the negotiating position of women workers;

51.      Welcomes the fact that female employment in the EU is close to the target of 60% by 2010, but is adamant that a more ambitious figure of 75% by 2020 now needs to be set;

52.      Demands that specific measures be taken by the Council, the Commission and the EU Member States to improve the position of especially vulnerable groups, such as an independent status for migrant women faced with domestic violence, individualised entitlements to pensions and other benefits for women with no or little labour market participation and a campaign to raise awareness of discrimination against transgender people and improve their access to legal remedies;

53.      Stresses the importance of negotiations and collective bargaining in fighting discrimination against women, especially as regards access to employment, wages, working conditions, career progress and training;

54.      Calls on public and private bodies to incorporate these equality plans into their internal rules, to accompany them with precise short-, medium- and long-term objectives, and to carry out an annual assessment of the implementation of those objectives in practice;

55.      Deplores the fact that women are under-represented in decision-making in both the business world and democratic processes, and insists that more ambitious measures are needed to boost the number of women sitting on boards of directors of companies and in local, regional, national and European public institutions;

56.      Calls for greater action, awareness-raising and supervision in the workplace so as to create better working conditions for women by taking into account working hours, compliance with maternity and paternity rights, and work-life balance, and calling for wider uptake of maternity leave, the establishment of parental leave, the establishment of paid paternity leave, the establishment of paid family leave, inter alia for the purpose of caring for dependent relatives, measures to combat sexist stereotyping in the division of labour and care, and remedies in the event that the above rights are challenged;

57.      Stresses, in this regard, the need to measure, certify and reward the practice of corporate social responsibility on the basis that the requirements must absolutely include gender equality; maintains that this should be achieved through the adoption of flexible organisational models based on target-oriented work and not linked to physical presence, and enabling all workers, whether men or women, to develop themselves professionally and evolve in career and salary terms, in line with their abilities and skills and taking account of the social imperatives arising from the need to care for children and relatives, in a context of family-friendly services and work organisation;

58.      Insists on the need to balance personal and family life and work by putting into practice measures, aimed equally at men and women, which promote the sharing of tasks on an equal footing and take into account the fact that until now men have been less inclined to take advantage of parental leave or incentives;

59.      Stresses the need to encourage incentives for the development and implementation at enterprise level of affirmative action programmes and human resource policies aimed at promoting gender equality, with the emphasis on awareness-raising and training activities for the promotion, transfer and incorporation of successful practices in organisations and businesses;

60.      Believes it is important to look more closely into the issue of developing a methodology for the analysis of functions that can guarantee women’s right to equal pay, develop the full potential of individuals and occupations, and, simultaneously, enhance the dignity of work as a structuring element, with a view to increasing the productivity, competitiveness and quality of enterprises and improving the living conditions of both men and women workers;

61.      Insists on the need for improvements in the availability, quality and accessibility of childcare and care services for dependent persons, ensuring that the availability of these services is compatible with the full-time working hours of men and women;

62.      Points out that care services for children and other dependants are potentially a major source of employment for older women, who currently have one of the lowest employment rates;

63.      Believes it is necessary to ensure that affordable quality care services are available for at least 50% of children under three years of age, and to make education available to all children between the age of three and the mandatory school age;

64.      Advocates policies and measures aimed at eradicating violence against women in every walk of life by promoting the human rights of women, combating gender stereotypes and all forms of discrimination in society and the family, not least in education, training, the media and politics; maintains that specific policies should be developed which promote gender equality, empower women, better educate individuals – including through awareness-raising campaigns – and promote lifelong learning strategies and specific measures for women;

65.      Supports the conclusions of the Employment and Social Affairs Council on the eradication of violence against women, and highlights the importance of the Commission’s ongoing commitment to pursuing a more active policy to prevent violence against women; calls on the Commission to initiate consultation on a directive to combat violence against women that will outline, among other things, the efforts the Member States are obliged to make to combat violence against women;

66.      Emphasises the need for a wide-ranging survey to be conducted, taking in all the EU countries and using a common methodology, to establish the real extent of the problem; draws attention to the important work that will be carried out in this field by the European Monitoring Centre on Gender-based Violence, which will provide high-quality statistics in support of political measures to fight this scab on society;

67.      Maintains that every attention should be brought to bear on the situation of women working with their spouses in agriculture, craft industries, commerce or fisheries, and of small family businesses, in which women are in a more vulnerable position than men, with a view to taking new measures to protect mothers, eliminate indirect discrimination and safeguard welfare provision, social security and other entitlements accorded to women, including those working in a self-employed capacity; points in this regard to the importance of developing the legal construct of shared ownership with the aim of ensuring that women’s rights in the agricultural sector are fully recognised, that they receive appropriate social security protection and that their work is recognised;

68.      Emphasises the importance of combating stereotypes in all walks and at all stages of life, since these are one of the most persistent causes of inequality between men and women, affecting their choices in the field of education, training and employment, the distribution of domestic and family responsibilities, participation in public life and participation and representation in decision-making positions, and their choices regarding the labour market;

69.      Calls on the European institutions and the Member States to put greater emphasis on combating multiple discrimination, poverty and social exclusion and health inequalities;

70.      Takes the view that the taxation and social protection systems need to be reviewed in order to individualise rights, guarantee equal pension rights and remove incentives that adversely affect women’s labour market and social participation, such as joint taxation and grants for caring for dependants that are linked to women being inactive on the job market;

71.      Recalls its resolution of 10 February 2010 and stresses the importance for women of having control over their sexual and reproductive rights;

72.      Lays stress on the importance of preventive measures to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health, and calls therefore on the Member States and on regional and local authorities to sponsor free annual gynaecological check-ups, smear tests and mammographies for all women from puberty;

73.      Stresses the need to pay particular attention to the situation of women belonging to ethnic minorities, including female migrants, and to introduce appropriate measures to support them in the context of gender equality;

74.      Insists that the Commission should consult Parliament, including its Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, on the drafting of the future European Charter of Women’s Rights;

75.      Takes the view that particular attention should be focused on development, peace and solidarity with women in all parts of the world, especially those who are victims of injustice, discrimination, hunger, poverty, trafficking and violence of every kind; maintains that ongoing consultation with women’s organisations, and more broadly with civil society, and collaboration with non-governmental organisations on matters relating to policies which have a direct or indirect impact on gender equality are guarantees of a broader social consensus;

76.      Insists that the gender perspective and the fight against gender-based violence must be incorporated into the EU’s external and development cooperation policy;

77.      Emphasises that the new EU gender equality strategy and accompanying institutional mechanisms must be closely connected to the global agenda for women’s rights; notes that this includes linking up with and supporting the new UN gender equality entity, which should combine policy and operational activities, and calls on the EU to ensure that the new entity is provided with substantial financial and human resources enabling it to deliver on the ground, and led by a UN Under-Secretary-General with responsibility for gender equality;

78.      Calls for compliance with its recent resolutions of 10 February 2010 on preventing trafficking in human beings (P7_TA(2010)0018) and on equality between women and men in the EU (P7_TA(2010)0021);

79.      Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ C 104, 3.5.2006, p. 19.

(2)

OJ C 59, 23.2.2001, p. 258.

(3)

OJ C 320 E, 15.12.2005, p. 247.

(4)

OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.

(5)

OJ C 287 E, 24.11.2006, p. 75.

(6)

OJ C 313 E, 20.12.2006, p. 118.

(7)

OJ C 301 E, 13.12.2007, p. 56.

(8)

OJ C 41 E, 19.2.2009, p. 73.

(9)

OJ C 66 E, 20.3.2009, p. 57.

(10)

OJ C 295 E, 4.12.2009, p. 35.

(11)

OJ C 16 E, 22.1.2010, p. 21.

(12)

OJ C 77, 14.3.1994, p. 43.

(13)

OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 130.

(14)

OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 31.

(15)

OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 16.

(16)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2009)0098.

(17)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0018.

(18)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0021.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Introduction

The 2006-2010 Roadmap for equality is due to expire this year, and the Commission has announced that it is drawing up a new gender equality strategy.

Given that we are experiencing a serious economic and social crisis, with dire consequences for women, what is needed is to prevent backward steps and give substance to the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.

Two anniversaries fall this year: the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Conference and the centenary of International Women’s Day. These were landmark events for women’s emancipation and the fruits of struggles – great and small – that intensified during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Swedish Presidency drew up a report on the EU’s implementation of the document adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace.

While it was preparing this report, bearing the above context in mind, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality held a hearing in Brussels on 28 January 2010 on gender equality strategy, attended by a number of specialists and EU women’s organisations; the participants pointed to the need for further breakthroughs to enable gender equality to be translated into reality and women’s rights to be defended and promoted as fundamental human rights.

Stages in the struggle for women’s rights – the centenary of International Women’s Day and the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Conference

Meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, the Second International Conference of Working Women, on a proposal by Clara Zetkin, a prominent German revolutionary leader, endorsed the idea of celebrating an International Women’s Day, the object being to enable working women to demonstrate in support of their emancipation and universal suffrage; this marked the culmination of a growing protest movement in which women had been campaigning for better living and working conditions; their protest was thus elevated onto the political plane, and what was a symbolic date was turned into an action plan calling for working women all over the world to mobilise in support of their economic, social, and political mobilisation.

Many years were to pass, however, between the declaration of International Women’s Day (1910) and its official establishment by the UN.

In March 1972 Hertta Kuusinen, a Communist member of the Finnish Parliament and second chairperson of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), proposed to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that the UN declare an ‘International Women’s Year’ in order to draw the attention of the UN and the world to the situation of women and their specific problems. This proposal was supported by other women’s organisations, and the CSW recommended that the UN General Assembly declare 1975 International Women’s Year; the Assembly took a decision to that effect in December 1972.

The decisions on the International Women’s Year and the UN Decade for Women (1975-1985) inspired action in every part of the world.

The Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in 1995; it adopted a final document entitled the ‘Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace’.

For this year, a hundred years since International Women’s Day was first declared, the UN has chosen the theme of ‘equal rights, equal opportunities: progress for all’. The main focus of attention will be the Beijing + 15 review centring on ‘Equality, Development and Peace’, the theme of the UN Decade for Women.

In the EU, the Treaties have recognised gender equality as one of the EU’s fundamental principles and a universal human right, but substantial inequalities can still be seen in political reality and women’s everyday lives, even though several directives and many resolutions have been adopted over the years with the aim of combating discrimination.

The 2006-2010 Roadmap and the current situation

Although it has served to some extent to highlight key aspects of gender equality, the 2006-2010 Roadmap for equality has lacked the political force required to translate it into practice, and the progress actually achieved has thus been modest. Another factor involved in this outcome is the inconsistencies of Community policies, which have produced a situation in which more than 85 million people, mostly women and children, have been reduced to poverty by a combination of unemployment, casual labour, low wages, pensions below the minimum subsistence level, and the difficulties of obtaining access to good public services.

Furthermore, the current economic and social crisis is having a particularly severe impact on women, exacerbating inequalities and discrimination. In terms of men’s and women’s average wages, the disparities are widening, amounting on average to more than 17%, and indirect forms of discrimination tend to increase when unemployment is rising and affecting women and girls.

Even the employment generated in recent years, especially jobs for young people and women, has mainly been insecure and poorly paid and failed to respect fundamental rights, not least where motherhood is concerned, a fact which has also contributed to the low birth rate. Among the most serious forms of discrimination are those inflicted in numerous instances on specific categories of women, including older women, women with dependants, women who are migrants or belong to minorities, and women with disabilities.

Violence and poverty are continuing at a high level; unemployment and discrimination have served to prolong or expand the trafficking in which women and children are brought to Member States to work as prostitutes: these problems need to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Measures at institutional level

Although the Member States’ equality policies have reached different stages of development, what is essential in every case is to guarantee equal access to resources, rights, and power, implying a need to bring about structural and cultural change, eliminate stereotypes, and promote equality with a view to achieving it in a context of progress as opposed to retrogression.

Existing challenges and the experience acquired suggest that women’s rights need to be coordinated more closely, publicised more widely, and promoted more effectively, and that women’s organisations need to play a role in combating discrimination and inequalities.

That is why the EU’s new gender equality strategy needs to be an agenda for action and a political commitment based on the Beijing Platform for Action; after consulting Parliament, the Council should adopt the strategy in order to lend greater political weight and provide fresh impetus for gender equality policy, bearing in mind that the human rights of women and girls form an inalienable and indivisible integral part of universal human rights.

In addition, the Council, the Commission, and Parliament should hold an annual tripartite meeting to review the progress of the strategy. Given that women and the organisations representing them need to be involved in the whole process, a conference on gender equality, attended by women’s organisations and trade unions from the Member States and Members of Parliament, the Commission, the Council, and the national parliaments should be held annually, focusing each year on a predetermined theme.

The European Institute for Gender Equality should become fully operational without delay, and all the necessary indicators should be devised to enable equality issues to be kept under review wherever they arise. The Commission’s directorates-general should set up coordinating machinery to provide permanent follow-up to gender equality and equal opportunities policies.

The gender equality policies applying in various fields of activity, including the economic, financial, commercial, social, and budgetary spheres, have to based on an integrated approach. The Commission and the Member States should publicise examples of good practice and speak out against those cases in which women’s rights, and especially those of working women, are systemically violated; one matter to which particular attention should be drawn is the use of bonuses for ‘production’, ‘quality’, ‘productivity’, or ‘regular attendance’, the invariable purpose of which is to make maternity and paternity rights subject to conditions and create difficulties in terms of supporting children or other dependants, as well as limiting trade union and political rights.

A dual strategy needs to be employed, applying an integrated approach to gender equality while continuing to take specific action, including legislative, budgetary, and supervisory measures. Where the social impact of policy proposals needs to be assessed, such assessment should cover gender equality.

In Parliament too, across its varied range of activities, extending to committees and parliamentary delegations, particular importance should be assigned to equality issues.

Policy areas – aims

Gender equality and equal opportunities should be achieved in a context of social progress for all and not of retrogression. It is therefore important to build on the analysis of the Beijing Platform (Beijing + 15) with a view not just to developing appropriate indicators, but also to defining goals and adopting the necessary policies in all of the 12 areas covered.

In this time of crisis, one priority has to be to fight poverty by reforming the macroeconomic, monetary, social, and labour market policies lying at its roots with a view to guaranteeing economic and social justice for women and pursuing strategies to promote fair distribution of income, guarantee a minimum income and decent wages and pensions, create more jobs with rights for women, enable all women and girls to benefit from public services of a high standard, and improve welfare provision and neighbourhood services, for example crèches, nursery schools, kindergartens, day centres, and community leisure and family support centres, making them accessible to women, children, and older people as a whole. This could afford an opportunity to create jobs with rights for women and help to foster social inclusion.

Steps need to be taken as a matter of urgency to combat discrimination in terms of wages and the value to be assigned to work, whether by revising the existing directive or by drawing up phased industry-wide plans, with clear-cut goals, aimed at doing away with direct and indirect forms of discrimination or by encouraging collective bargaining and the training of equality advisers and laying down equality plans for factories and other workplaces.

It is not enough to submit a communication, as the Commission did in July 2007, on the subject of reducing the gender pay gap. Nor is it enough to examine the reasons for wage disparities. It is essential to reveal the findings, and it is to be hoped that the Commission will draw conclusions and, without fail, put forward measures aimed at narrowing the gender pay gap.

Greater action, awareness-raising, and supervision are needed at the workplace in order to create better working conditions for women, taking into account working times, compliance with maternity and paternity rights and their social function in terms of work-life balance and calling for wider uptake of maternity and parental leave, with full pay, the establishment of paid paternity leave, and remedies where the above rights are challenged.

It is necessary to adopt the policies and actions required to eradicate violence against women in every walk of life, promoting women’s human rights, combating gender stereotypes and all forms of discrimination in society and the family, not least in education, training, the media, and politics; policies must serve to educate and to promote equality.

Every attention should be brought to bear on the situation of women working with their spouses in agriculture, craft industries, commerce, or fisheries and on that of small family businesses, in which women are in a more vulnerable position than men; new measures should be taken to protect mothers, eliminate indirect discrimination, safeguard welfare provision, social security, and other entitlements accorded to women, including those working in a self-employed capacity.

In spite of the progress in the area of sexual and reproductive health, there are still many unresolved problems, and women therefore have to be given control over their sexual and reproductive rights.

It is essential to ensure compliance with a number of important EU resolutions, not least those of 10 February 2010 on preventing trafficking in human beings (P7_TA(2010)0018) and equality between women and men in the EU (P7_TA(2010)0021).


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

4.5.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

2

11

Members present for the final vote

Regina Bastos, Edit Bauer, Andrea Češková, Marije Cornelissen, Silvia Costa, Ilda Figueiredo, Iratxe García Pérez, Zita Gurmai, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Philippe Juvin, Astrid Lulling, Barbara Matera, Angelika Niebler, Siiri Oviir, Antonyia Parvanova, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska, Eva-Britt Svensson, Marc Tarabella, Marina Yannakoudakis

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Norica Nicolai, Rovana Plumb, Zuzana Roithová, Joanna Senyszyn

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Ana Gomes, Alajos Mészáros, Sylvana Rapti

Last updated: 3 June 2010Legal notice