Full text 
Procedure : 2019/2167(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A9-0145/2020

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 22/10/2020 - 5
CRE 22/10/2020 - 5

Votes :

PV 22/10/2020 - 16
PV 23/10/2020 - 7

Texts adopted :


Texts adopted
PDF 176kWORD 72k
Friday, 23 October 2020 - Brussels
Gender Equality in EU’s foreign and security policy

European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2020 on Gender Equality in EU’s foreign and security policy (2019/2167(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and, in particular, goals 5 and 16,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),

–  having regard to the UN-EU Strategic Partnership on peace operations and crisis management priorities for 2019-2021, endorsed by the Council on 18 September 2018 with Women, Peace and Security as its overarching priority,

–  having regard to the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action from the Fourth World Conference on Women and the outcomes of the review conferences,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of 31 October 2000 and its follow-up resolutions 1820 (19 June 2008); 1888 (30 September 2009); 1889 (5 October 2009); 1960 (16 December 2010); 2106 (24 June 2013); 2122 (18 October 2013); 2242 (13 October 2015); 2467 (23 April 2019) and 2493 (29 October 2019),

–  having regard to the Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris on 12 December 2015 (the Paris Agreement),

–   having regard to the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment on the occasion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires on December 2017,

–   having regard to Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(1), and to Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA(2),

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols thereto, and in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,

–  having regard to the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 10 December 2018 on Women, Peace and Security,

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Approach to Women, Peace and Security and its Action Plan 2019-2024,

–  having regard to the guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, adopted by the Council of the European Union at its meeting of 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to the List of Actions to Advance LGBTI Equality published by the Commission in December 2015,

–  having regard to the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 (GAP II), adopted by the Council on 26 October 2015, and the annual implementation reports thereon,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 31 May 2018 on the implementation of the Joint Staff Working Document (SWD(2015)0182) – Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020(3) and of 25 November 2010 on the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security(4),

–  having regard to the European Consensus on Development of 19 May 2017,

–  having regard to the Commission’s EU Gender Equality Strategy of 5 March 2020 (COM(2020)0152),

–  having regard to the European External Action Service (EEAS) Civilian Operations Commander Operational Guidelines for Mission Management and Staff on Gender Mainstreaming of 8 October 2018,

–  having regard to the document entitled ‘Implementation of UNSCRs on Women, Peace and Security in the context of CSDP missions and operations’, adopted by the Council on 22 March 2012,

–  having regard to the Upgraded Generic Standards of Behaviour for CSDP Missions and Operations of 22 January 2018,

–  having regard to the EEAS Gender and Equal Opportunities Strategy 2018-2023 of November 2017,

–  having regard to the EEAS Report of 10 November 2016 on the Baseline Study on Integrating Human Rights and Gender into the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy,

–  having regard to the EEAS Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy of June 2016,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 21(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A9-0145/2020),

A.  whereas the principle of equality between women and men is a core value of the EU, enshrined in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; whereas gender mainstreaming should therefore be implemented and integrated as a horizontal principle in all EU activities and policies; whereas the EU should contribute to the creation of a world in which all people, regardless of gender, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity can live peacefully, enjoying equal rights and the same opportunities to realise their potential;

B.  whereas the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) is to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls worldwide; whereas no development strategy can be effective unless women and girls play a central role, and whereas SDG 5 must be mainstreamed horizontally into the different policy fields in which the EU has competence to act;

C.  whereas several countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Norway, have adopted frameworks to advance towards a foreign policy with a strong focus on gender equality and whereas France, Spain, Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus and Germany, among others, have announced their intention to make gender equality a priority in their foreign policy; whereas a policy of this type should promote a gender transformative vision of foreign policy that gives priority to gender equality, protects and promotes the human rights of women and other traditionally marginalised groups, guarantees their fair access to social, economic and political resources and their participation at all levels, allocates adequate resources to achieving that vision, and takes into account the voices of women human rights defenders and civil society; whereas any future EU foreign and security policy should aim to achieve these goals;

D.  whereas women and girls are particularly affected by physical, psychological and sexual violence, poverty, armed conflicts, and the impact of climate and health emergencies and other emergency situations, and their empowerment is essential to tackling these issues; whereas there has been a backlash against women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights; whereas any understanding of security needs to have a clear human rights focus in order to promote actions that lead to peace; whereas the Council’s LGBTI Guidelines are an effective tool to promote the full enjoyment of human rights by LGBTI persons, as well as a good basis to be built upon for an ambitious forthcoming LGBTI Equality Strategy;

E.  whereas a foreign and security policy that does not represent women, girls and LGBTI+ rights and does not address current injustices further reinforces imbalances; whereas anyone who wants to put an end to these injustices must recognise the unequal balance of power between the genders;

F.  whereas the dominant narrative surrounding women and girls is one of victimisation that deprives them of their agency and erases their capacity as agents of positive change; whereas an increasingly large body of evidence illustrates that the meaningful participation of women and girls in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction increases the sustainability, quality and durability of peace and the resilience of local communities and helps to prevent all forms of gender-based violence; whereas even though women play such a decisive role in establishing lasting peace, they made up only 13 % of negotiators in the major peace processes from 1992 to 2018, only 4 % of signatories and only 3 % of mediators;

G.  whereas women and girls may experience multiple forms of discrimination; whereas gender-based violence, including early and forced marriage and FGM, inadequate access to health, education, clean water, sanitation and nutrition, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services, and unequal participation in political decision making, as well as in public and private institutions, contribute to discrimination and marginalisation; whereas protecting girls from violence and discrimination, in particular with regard to education, information and health services, including SRHR, is especially important in ensuring the full enjoyment of their human rights; whereas refugee and migrant girls are in a particularly vulnerable situation;

H.  whereas girls today will be the ones to deal with the consequences of conflicts and emergencies in the future, and in the case of protracted conflicts, are those growing up in harmful conditions with long-lasting effects; whereas girls have specific needs and face specific challenges that are distinct from those of adult women, which the broader categories of ‘children’ and ‘women’ often fail to recognise;

I.  whereas 2020 marks important anniversaries of women’s rights and gender equality frameworks, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) of 2000;

J.  whereas the EU Strategic Approach to WPS represents significant progress in terms of the EU’s engagement with the WPS agenda; whereas it emphasises the need for concrete commitments and actions, as well as the need to involve, protect and support women and girls to achieve lasting peace and security; whereas the EU Action Plan on WPS was adopted in 2019 in order to implement such a Strategic Approach, but translating this policy commitment into action remains a challenge; whereas it is of the utmost importance that EU staff members step up their efforts to integrate WPS into their work, with the objective not only of improving the effectiveness of missions, but also of ensuring women’s rights and gender equality in themselves;

K.  whereas the Gender Action Plan II (GAP II) emerged from Parliament’s recommendations with a focus on shifting EU institutional culture at headquarter and delegation level in order to create a systemic change in how the EU approaches the principle of gender equality, as well as on transforming women’s and girls’ lives in four pivotal areas; whereas mainstreaming and promoting gender equality in the EU’s foreign and security policy is highly dependent on the successful implementation and evaluation of GAP II in order to recommend actions for an improved future GAP framework (a new EU Gender Action Plan III in 2020);

L.  whereas the original GAP I brought about some progress, but was also marked by a number of shortcomings: a narrow scope, the absence of gender-responsive budgeting, a weak understanding of the gender equality framework by the EU delegations, a lack of commitment on the part of the EU leadership, and a lack of institutional architecture and incentives to motivate and adequately support staff; whereas GAP II constituted an important step forward in fostering gender equality in the EU’s external relations, with a number of positive trends, but requires the full awareness of and unwavering commitment by the EU and its Member States to safeguard against any deterioration and accelerate its progress; whereas GAP II still displays a number of shortcomings as regards the implementation of key priorities and gender-related SDGs, challenges to the accurate reporting of progress on all objectives and of qualitative data, and gender mainstreaming in policy dialogues; whereas there is still a need to further enlarge its scope, adequately implement gender-responsible budgeting and align timeframes between programming and budget cycles; whereas greater commitment on the part of the EU’s leaders, and putting in place the institutional architecture and incentives to motivate and adequately support and train staff are of vital importance to achieving tangible results in terms of enhanced gender equality worldwide;

M.  whereas GAP II has set the target of mainstreaming gender actions across 85 % of all new EU initiatives by 2020; whereas in spite of progress having been made, in 2018 only between 55 % and 68 % of the new programmes incorporated gender;

N.  whereas the EU delegations and missions are on the frontline of the implementation of GAP II in partner countries, and the leadership and knowledge of delegation and mission heads and staff play a significant role in ensuring the successful implementation of GAP II; whereas it is recommended that more women are given access to leadership and management posts in EU delegations;

O.  whereas women remain largely underrepresented and undervalued in politics and decision-making processes, including in the area of foreign policy and international security in the EU and worldwide; whereas within the EU, 6 women hold the post of defence minister and only 3 out of 27 of foreign ministers are women; whereas gender-balanced appointments bring a high level of added value to decision-making processes;

P.  whereas the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2024 has set the objective of reaching a gender balance of 50 % at all levels of the Commission’s management by the end of 2024;

Q.  whereas in the EEAS, men hold 75 % of middle management positions and 87 % of senior management posts; whereas the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) committed to reaching the target of 40 % of management positions being held by women by the end of his mandate; whereas the most recent appointments he made resulted in a structure with exclusively male Deputy Secretary-Generals;

R.  whereas EU policies tend to present women as victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and to address their protection primarily after SGBV has occurred; whereas a stronger policy and operational focus on prevention of human rights violations that addresses the power imbalances in gender relations would improve the EU’s policies in this area;

S.  whereas progress has been made in the realisation of SRHR across the world, but serious shortcomings in the provision of and access to SRHR continue to exist; whereas a worrying backlash against women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights is being observed throughout the world and involves limiting SRHR and banning sexuality education and gender studies; whereas in 2018 the number of EU actions on SRHR decreased and the lowest number of global actions by Commission services on gender equality pertained to SRHR; whereas there is a strong need to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over matters related to their SRHR, free from discrimination and violence;

T.  whereas the work of gender advisors and focal points is important in translating EU policies on gender equality and WPS into analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation, as well as the integration of a gender perspective into daily tasks and operations; whereas gender advisers and focal points play an important role in integrating gender-related policies horizontally; whereas increased prioritisation of gender in EU delegations, sufficient time for gender mainstreaming and project managers committed to sufficiently taking gender into account in their work are necessary to ensure that focal points can adequately develop their duties; whereas further action is needed to ensure that the job description of gender focal persons reflects their tasks as being in charge of gender mainstreaming and promoting gender equality;

U.  whereas only one third of all EU delegations work on the rights of LGBTIQ+ people; whereas the EU’s LGBTIQ+ Guidelines are not being applied uniformly and their implementation depends strongly on the knowledge and interest of the delegations’ leadership instead of respecting a structural approach;

V.  whereas women civil society groups and activists play critical roles in advancing the peace and security agenda and their participation is essential in mainstreaming gender equality concerns; whereas civil society space is shrinking in various spheres, including with regard to women’s organisations and women human rights defenders, SRHR and LGBTIQ+ rights; whereas women human rights defenders often face additional and different risks and obstacles that are intersectional and shaped by entrenched gender stereotypes; whereas consistent engagement with women’s organisations and women human rights defenders needs to be ensured throughout the full cycle of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of GAP III; whereas more ambitious internal and external actions are needed to actively address any form of backlash and continue advancing towards gender equal societies;

W.  whereas limited funding and understaffing are fundamental obstacles to implementing EU objectives on gender equality; whereas policy coherence in the area of gender equality is also lacking, and a unified system facilitating an identical understanding and implementation of gender mainstreaming in EU institutions does not yet exist;

X.  whereas including a gender perspective in the EU’s foreign and security policy also means acknowledging and combating the specific gender dimensions and impact of global phenomena such as climate change, migration, trade and security, as well as putting the focus on the experiences and needs of women and groups facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalisation at the centre of policy making;

1.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to continue enhancing women’s and girls’ rights and to advance towards a foreign and security policy that mainstreams a gender-transformative vision; stresses the need for such a policy to be grounded in consistent gender mainstreaming, gender analysis with gender- and age-disaggregated data and gender-sensitive indicators, and systematic gender impact assessments for the identification, formulation and monitoring of actions in all sectors to enhance gender equality and for a meaningful and equitable role in decision making for women and people from diverse backgrounds; encourages the EU to explore possibilities for sharing, managing and updating gender analysis in a systematic manner;

2.  Urges the Commission, the VP/HR and the Member States to further strengthen their support for gender equality, the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls and their empowerment across the globe, and to play a key and increasing role in streamlining and leveraging resources to that end;

3.  Welcomes the three thematic pillars of GAP II, namely 1) ensuring girls’ and women’s physical and psychological integrity, 2) promoting the economic and social rights and the empowerment of girls and women, and 3) strengthening girls’ and women’s voice and participation; notes that progress has been uneven across the thematic priorities and among different EU actors; calls therefore for greater efforts by the Commission, the VP/HR and all Member States to fully implement the GAP and attain the performance standards set out therein; regrets that in 2018 the objective with the lowest number of reported actions under GAP II was combating the trafficking of women and girls for all forms of exploitation and that this was the only objective for which the number of reported actions decreased in comparison with 2017;

4.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to carry out a review and present a new GAP for 2021-2025 (GAP III) in 2020; stresses that GAP III should build and expand on the path laid out in the current GAP II and take into consideration lessons learned from its current implementation; stresses that this document must take the form of an official communication in order to ensure its effective implementation; recalls that the common foreign and security policy is subject to specific rules and procedures and that the Union’s development cooperation policy and those of the Member States should complement and reinforce each other with full respect for the principles and treaties of the EU, including Articles 2, 3 and 5 TEU; welcomes the Commission’s recommendations for the Member States, regarding their approach to gender equality through external action, to pursue political aims in line with the GAP in their areas of competence;

5.  Welcomes the EU Action Plan on WPS and calls for its robust implementation; welcomes the inclusion of ‘promoting the WPS agenda’ in the 2018 Joint Declaration on EU-NATO cooperation; welcomes the decision to renew the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and calls for the inclusion of gender mainstreaming and targeted actions for gender equality and women’s rights, including SRHR; welcomes, in addition, the new EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings envisaged for 2021;

6.  Calls for further policy coherence and coordination in the implementation of the range of commitments on gender equality included in the EU’s external action; stresses that the EU Strategic Approach should be linked to and synchronised with the new GAP III, and calls for the 2019 EU Action Plan on WPS to be included in GAP III as a separate chapter; stresses the importance of the existing normative framework pertaining to the WPS agenda; insists that this framework should be the baseline for all actions at EU and international level and that any attempts to resile from or roll back established commitments in this field must be firmly rejected;

7.  Calls on all Member States to adopt a feminist foreign and security policy that addresses the barriers for women to enter and maintain not only high-level leadership roles and key positions such as ambassadorships and mediator positions in international peace talks and negotiations, but also entry-level positions; recalls that factors that might deter women’s participation, such as a lack of policies conducive to a good work-life balance, unequal sharing of family responsibilities and the expectation that women will be primary caregivers, which often leads to women taking career breaks or moving to part-time work, and the global public perception of women’s leadership should be taken into account; stresses, furthermore, that in advancing the women’s leadership targets in the WPS agenda, equal pay for equal work is one of the EU’s founding principles and should be mainstreamed through the advancement of women’s economic and social rights, both outside and within the EU; recalls that Member States have an obligation to eliminate discrimination on grounds of sex with regard to all aspects and conditions of remuneration for the same work or for work of equal value;

Gender equality as a guiding principle of the EU’s external action

8.  Calls on the EEAS, the relevant Commission services, the European agencies working outside the European Union’s borders and the Member States to systematically integrate gender mainstreaming and an intersectional perspective into the EU’s foreign and security, enlargement, trade and development policy, including in multilateral forums and in all policy formulation, political and strategic dialogues, public statements, global human rights reporting and monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes; insists that gender equality should be a core value in all EU external action;

9.  Stresses that further analysis needs to be carried out on the power dynamics inherent in EU policies and practice and in the current programming cycle in order to analyse and address their gender implications;

10.  Recalls the importance of integrating an intersectional perspective into all EU external action and that EU actions should take account of the experiences of women from diverse backgrounds and especially those facing intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalisation based on their age, gender, race, religion, socioeconomic and legal status, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity; recalls that women are not a homogenous group, nor do they speak with one voice;

11.  Stresses the need to ensure continued commitment to the implementation of GAP III at the highest political levels; asks that GAP III specify that 85 % of official development assistance (ODA) should go to programmes that have gender equality as a significant or principal objective and calls, within this broader commitment, for a substantial amount of ODA to be allocated to programmes with gender equality, including SRHR, as a principal objective; calls for further targeted actions to achieve gender equality; calls, furthermore, for the new GAP to strengthen the solid evidence-based approach taken by GAP II, using qualitative analyses to assess the real impact of such programmes in advancing gender equality; calls for improvements to reporting for EU funding for gender equality allocated and disbursed in partner countries through GAP III;

12.  Recommends that GAP III be accompanied by clear, measurable, time-bound indicators of success to monitor short-, medium- and long-term changes, the attribution of responsibility to different actors, and clear objectives in each partner country developed in close cooperation with the partner country in question and with the active inclusion of local civil society organisations, other relevant civil society actors and local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the EU Member States to recommit, through the new GAP, to gender mainstreaming in all sectors; calls on the EEAS, the relevant Commission services and the EU Member States to propose further gender-targeted actions;

13.  Calls for GAP III to challenge the backlash against women’s rights by strengthening access to education, information and SRHR for women and girls, and to secure their protection from coercion, violence, discrimination and abuse; stresses likewise that the new GAP should explicitly cover protection, participation and the advancement of women’s rights in all contexts, including fragile states and conflict-related contexts;

14.  Believes that education is key to realising gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; calls for the EU, therefore, to increase its commitment to promoting gender equality and combating gender stereotypes in and through education systems in its upcoming GAP III; calls, in this regard, for consideration of a range of opportunities in the field of science, technology, engineering and maths;

15.  Welcomes the EU Strategic Approach to WPS and the EU Action Plan on WPS adopted in 2019, and calls for their robust implementation; regrets, however, that despite clear objectives and indicators, translating this policy commitment into action remains a challenge and requires continued efforts; stresses the importance of National Action Plans for the implementation of the WPS agenda; welcomes the fact that almost all EU Member States will adopt their National Action Plans on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 by the end of the year; regrets, however, that only one of them has allocated a budget for their implementation; calls on Member States to allocate such a budget and to develop national parliamentary supervisory mechanisms, as well as to introduce quotas for the participation of women in control, evaluation, and supervisory mechanisms; regrets that many EU staff members have not integrated the WPS agenda into their work, and that this agenda is seen as one that can be applied at their discretion and with the objective of improving the effectiveness of missions, but not as way to ensure women’s rights and gender equality in themselves;

16.  Calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to implement a structured gender-budgeting approach to accurately track all related spending, including in the area of external action, and to organise ex-ante and ex-post gender impact assessments of the different programmes financed by the EU and to report back to the European Parliament; stresses that this evaluation should be based on gender- and age-disaggregated data and that its result should be integrated into the programming cycle; stresses the need to improve the reliability of gender analysis by harmonising the data collected by EU delegations in such a way as to make it comparable; calls for gender analysis to play a role in defining country strategy objectives, programmes, projects and dialogue;

17.  Calls for support for the allocation of 85 % of the specific earmarked funding to programmes that have gender equality as a significant or principal objective within the framework of the proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) Regulation and for reduced administrative constraints to allow access to funding for local and small civil society organisations; stresses the importance of making further gender mainstreaming and targeted actions clear objectives under the NDICI Regulation and ensuring that partners can count on sufficient political and financial support to implement it; calls for gender-specific indicators to be applied in the project selection, monitoring and evaluation phases of all EU foreign and security policy actions that receive funding from the EU budget; stresses the need to increase the efficient use of existing and future EU resources through gender-responsive budgeting, in particular in times of challenges such as the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), budgetary constraints and post-COVID-19 crisis implications;

18.  Calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the EU delegations to recognise girls and young women as drivers of change and to support their safe, meaningful and inclusive participation in civic and public life, including by taking into consideration the feedback of youth-led organisations and supporting them through capacity building; stresses the positive role that girls, young women and women have in achieving sustainable peace and social cohesion, including through local girl- and women-led initiatives in the field of conflict prevention and peacebuilding; calls for the EU and the Member States to ensure an adequate budget for education in emergencies to ensure that every girl can succeed, despite circumstances resulting from conflict and natural disaster;

19.  Recognises that humanitarian crises intensify SRHR-related challenges and recalls that in crisis zones, particularly among vulnerable groups such as refugees and migrants, women and girls are particularly exposed to sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual exploitation, rape as a weapon of war and unwanted pregnancies; calls on the Commission and Member States to give high priority to gender equality and SRHR in their humanitarian aid response, as well as accountability and access to justice and redress for sexual and reproductive rights violations and gender-based violence, including in terms of training for humanitarian actors and existing and future funding; highlights the importance of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance; welcomes, in this context, the focus of stakeholders active in the field of development co-operation and humanitarian assistance on addressing abuse and harassment in conflict-related settings; calls on the Commission and Member States to advocate for the inclusion of women’s rights organisations, as well as women-led organisations and defenders of women’s human rights, in humanitarian coordination and decision-making structures;

20.  Calls for the examination of synergies between internal and external programmes of the Union to ensure a coherent and continuous approach to policies within and outside the Union, such as in the case of female genital mutilation (FGM);

21.  Calls on the Commission to put in place a values-based EU trade policy that ensures a high level of protection for labour and environmental rights and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, including gender equality; recalls that all EU trade and investment agreements must be gender mainstreamed and include an ambitious and enforceable chapter on trade and sustainable development (TSD); recalls that the negotiation of trade agreements could represent an important tool for advancing gender equality and empowering women in third countries and calls for gender-disaggregated data on the impact of trade to be collected; calls for the EU and its Member States to include the country-specific and sector-specific gender impact of EU trade policy and agreements in ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments; stresses that the results of the gender-focused analysis should be taken into account in trade negotiations – considering both the positive and the negative impact throughout the whole process, from negotiation to implementation – and should be accompanied by measures to prevent or compensate possible negative effects; welcomes the Commission’s commitment to ensuring, for the first time for the EU, the inclusion of a specific gender chapter in the modernised Association Agreement between Chile and the EU and calls for the promotion of and support for the inclusion of such chapters in all further EU trade and investment agreements, building on existing international examples and on the basis of their added value following the assessments carried out;

22.  Calls on Member States to be fully compliant with the Common Position on Arms Exports, and specifically calls on Member States to take into account the risk of exported materials being used for, or facilitating, gender-based violence or violence against women or children; emphasises that a gender-sensitive approach means a human-centred security approach, aiming at improving security for women, including economic, social and health security;

A gender and diversity focus in the EU institutional culture at headquarters and delegations

23.  Calls on the Member States to create a formal working group on gender equality; calls for the establishment of a new Council configuration bringing together EU ministers and secretaries of state responsible for gender equality in order to facilitate gender mainstreaming across all EU policies, including foreign and security policy;

24.  Welcomes the work done by the EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and by the EU Informal Taskforce on WPS thus far, including in ensuring the participation of relevant civil society organisations in their discussions; regrets, however, the limited capacity in terms of staff and resources assigned to the position of Principal Advisor on Gender and calls for its holder to report directly to the VP/HR; stresses the need for the even more efficient use of resources assigned to this position; calls on the VP/HR to continue his efforts in the area of gender mainstreaming, to appoint a full-time gender adviser in each EEAS Directorate, reporting directly to the Principal Adviser, and to encourage their staff to work closely with the European Institute for Gender Equality; stresses that knowledge sharing among the EU institutions and agencies is a significant and highly efficient tool to avoid high administrative costs and an unnecessary increase in bureaucracy;

25.  Welcomes the EEAS Gender and Equal Opportunities Strategy 2018-2023 and calls for it to be updated to include concrete, measurable and binding political commitments on the presence of women in management positions; presses for the achievement of the target of 50 % women in management positions, including as Heads of Delegation and of common security and defence policy (CSDP) missions and operations; welcomes the progress made by the Commission in this regard, with women accounting for 41 % of managers at all levels; regrets that the EEAS is far from reaching that goal, with women accounting for only two of the eight EU Special Representatives, 31,3 % of middle-management positions and 26 % of senior-management positions; calls on the current VP/HR to take the necessary steps to remedy this situation, and calls on the Member States to put forward more women for senior positions;

26.  Stresses the importance of the principle of non-discrimination and diversity in the EU institutions, as enshrined in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; highlights the need for the EEAS to adjust its recruitment and hiring processes in order to pay more attention to diversity and inclusion; stresses the need for gender-responsive recruitment procedures, including by the European Personnel Selection Office; calls for gender-responsive leadership to be part of middle and senior management job descriptions;

27.  Calls on the VP/HR to ensure that Heads of EU Delegations abroad have formal responsibility for ensuring that gender equality is mainstreamed throughout all aspects of the delegations’ work and for ensuring that they report on it; calls on the VP/HR to ensure that there are specific, dedicated gender focal points in the EU delegations in order to ensure smooth workflows and keep bureaucracy to a minimum; stresses the need for the gender focal points to have sufficient resources and time to perform their tasks, with job descriptions detailing their responsibilities; stresses that they should report directly to the Head of Delegation/Head of Section, have access to all relevant documents and training needed to perform their duties, and have management responsibilities where appropriate; calls for equality guidelines for all EU delegations and, in this regard, for the development of online reporting, clear templates and the issuing of a guidebook to facilitate the work of the delegations;

28.  Stresses that achieving gender equality is not possible without gender-responsive leadership; calls, in this regard, for mandatory and tailored training on gender equality and gender mainstreaming for all managers of the EEAS, staff of EU diplomatic services and Heads/Commanders of CSDP missions and operations; highlights that mission letters and job descriptions for the new Heads of EU Delegations need to include specific references to gender equality; stresses that their evaluations need to include specific criteria on work undertaken to ensure gender mainstreaming; stresses that advancing women’s rights and gender equality should be horizontal priorities for all EU Special Representatives and should be a guiding principle of their mandate, in particular for the EU Special Representative for Human Rights;

29.  Highlights that women’s participation in CSDP missions contributes to the effectiveness of the mission and is a driver of the EU’s credibility as a proponent of equal rights for men and women worldwide; welcomes the fact that all civilian CSDP missions have now appointed a gender adviser and calls on the military CSDP missions to do the same; encourages EU Member States to put forward women as candidates for existing vacancies; calls for all EU-deployed military and civilian personnel to be sufficiently trained on gender equality and WPS, and specifically on how to integrate a gender perspective into their tasks; regrets that the number of women working in CSDP missions and especially in military operations remains very low; urges the EEAS to promote the need for a concrete target for and political commitment to increasing the number of women in the EU’s crisis management missions and operations; urges the Member States to look at ways to strengthen recruitment and retention policies and promote women’s participation in peacebuilding and peacekeeping missions;

30.  Stresses that only a few EU CSDP missions provide training on sexual and gender-based harassment, and calls on the EEAS and the Member States to provide mandatory training to combat such harassment in all missions and operations and to ensure that victims and whistleblowers are effectively protected; calls for the Upgraded Generic Standards of Behaviour for CSDP missions and operations to be updated to include the principle of zero tolerance of inaction on the part of EU leadership and management with regard to sexual and gender-based violence;

31.  Urges the VP/HR and the Member States to include references to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and follow-up resolutions in CSDP-related Council decisions and mission mandates, and to ensure that CSDP missions and operations have an annual action plan on how to implement the objectives of the future GAP III and the EU Action Plan on WPS; calls for gender analysis to be included in new CSDP instruments, including the European Defence Fund and the proposed European Peace Facility;

32.  Welcomes the growing network of Gender Focal Persons, with management support and access to training; notes in this regard that a regional meeting for gender focal points based in the Western Balkans and Turkey was organised with the aim of strengthening work on gender equality and gender mainstreaming; welcomes the improved cooperation with the Western Balkans in the framework of the G7 Partnership Initiative, where the EU agreed to partner with Bosnia and Herzegovina for the enhancement of the WPS Agenda;

33.  Underlines the importance of promoting gender equality in the EU’s foreign policy, including through Parliament’s relations with third countries; welcomes, in this respect, the decision of Parliament’s delegations to appoint a representative for gender issues in each delegation; underlines the need to promote equality and diversity in all activities of the delegations, including during official parliamentary meetings with third countries;

Prioritising the protection and advancement of women’s and girls’ rights and their participation

34.  Calls for the EU and the Member States to comply with all international commitments related to the global gender equality agenda; calls, furthermore, for them to encourage and support partner states to repeal the reservations they have entered with regard to CEDAW, and to implement the Declaration and the Action Plan from the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, including through legislation;

35.  Recalls the pivotal role of women as peacebuilders and highlights the importance of women’s role in promoting dialogue, peacebuilding and bringing different perspectives on the meaning of peace and security; points out that ensuring the meaningful and equitable participation of women in EU foreign policy negotiations and peace and security processes is linked to greater economic prosperity, fewer human rights violations and the advancement of global security, democracy and sustainable peace; notes that the promotion of women’s rights in crisis- or conflict-ridden countries fosters stronger and more resilient communities; calls on the VP/HR, the EEAS and the Member States to safeguard the rights of girls and women and ensure their full and meaningful participation across the various stages of the conflict cycle, in the context of EU conflict prevention and mediation activities;

36.  Points out that the commitment to preventing, combating and prosecuting all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, online violence, harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage, violence committed in the name of ‘honour’, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, and sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment are of vital importance; stresses the need for survivor assistance in this context; highlights that specific attention should be paid to women and girls who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination; calls for the EU and its Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention, as the first legally binding international instrument seeking to prevent and combat violence against women, thereby setting an example worldwide and making the EU’s commitment to eradicating such violence credible in its external relations; calls for the EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them to be revised and updated;

37.  Stresses that achieving gender equality is not possible without the inclusion of men and boys; believes that in the process of advancing gender equality, men and boys must be invited to participate and contribute actively as actors of change, thereby addressing gender stereotypes; recalls in particular the role and responsibility of men and boys in combating sexual and gender-based violence;

38.  Calls on the VP/HR, the EEAS and the Member States to ensure full implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and to adopt an annex aiming to recognise and develop additional strategies and tools to better and more effectively respond to and prevent the specific situations, threats and risk factors faced by women human rights defenders, including girls and young women activists; calls for the immediate application of a gender perspective and specific measures to support women human rights defenders in all programmes and instruments aiming to protect human rights defenders;

39.  Stresses that in many parts of the world, women’s and girl’s human rights are not fully guaranteed, and civil society organisations, including women’s and girl’s rights organisations, are facing increasing challenges in the shrinking democratic space available worldwide; recalls the essential work done by civil society organisations on the ground to sustain peace and promote women’s engagement in peace processes, politics, governance, institution building, the rule of law and the security sector; calls on the EU delegations to monitor the backlash against gender equality and SRHR and the tendency towards shrinking space for civil society and to take specific steps to protect civil society from threats, harassment, violence and hate speech; urges the Commission, the EEAS, Member States and Heads of EU Delegations to ensure support, by promoting a proper level of capacity building, for local civil society, including women’s organisations and human rights defenders, and to make cooperation and consultation with them a standard element of their work; urges the Commission and Member States to support initiatives that aim to challenge and transform negative gender norms and stereotypes in all contexts;

40.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to systematically support SRHR, which will contribute to the achievement of all the health-related SDGs, such as prenatal care and measures to avoid high-risk births and reduce infant and child mortality; points out the need to support access to family planning and maternal health services, comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education, contraception, safe and legal abortion services, and respect for women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies and to be protected against any form of discrimination, coercion or violence in this regard; calls on the Commission to counter the impact of the ‘global gag rule’ by significantly supporting SRHR funding through the financing instruments available in the EU’s external dimension;

41.  Recalls that women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change as a result of cultural and structural gender inequalities; recognises that gender equality is essential to achieving peace, security and sustainable development and the efficient management of climate challenges and that in order to achieve a fair and just transition which leaves no one behind an intersectional perspective is crucial; points out that only 30 % of climate negotiators are women and recalls that the meaningful and equal participation of women in decision making bodies at EU, national and local level in the field of climate policy and action is vital for achieving long-term climate goals; strongly recommends that GAP III make clear its links to the Paris Agreement and asks the EU and its Member States to ensure access for women’s organisations to international climate funds;

42.  Regrets that women and girls around the world are still subjected to systematic discrimination in multiple forms; notes the need to combat women’s poverty by ensuring their equal access to economic resources; recalls that greater inclusion of women in the labour market, better support for female entrepreneurship, equal access to capital, including for female entrepreneurs, safeguarding equal opportunities and equal pay for men and women for equal work, and promoting work-life balance are key factors for achieving long-term sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity, combating inequalities and encouraging women’s financial independence; calls on the Member States and EU institutions in this regard to increase, where appropriate, the availability of financing, including by means of microcredits, and to work with partner countries to advance the status of women, including in areas such as inheritance rights to property and land, access to legal status and to financial and digital literacy, and protection from child labour and other forms of exploitation;

43.  Stresses the need to implement a gender perspective within EU migration policy that guarantees the rights of women and girl asylum seekers and refugees, to immediately introduce gender-sensitive asylum and migration procedures and to step up work in order to ensure proper identification of and protection against potential violence, harassment, rape and the trafficking of women at reception centres across Europe;

44.  Condemns all forms of violence against women and girls, including trafficking in human beings; calls on the Commission and Member States to enhance cooperation with third countries in order to combat all forms of trafficking in human beings, paying particular attention to the gender dimension of trafficking so as to specifically combat child marriage, the sexual exploitation of women and girls and sex tourism; calls for the establishment of a gender-sensitive approach to trafficking in human beings, by comprehensively addressing the impact it has on the realisation of a wide range of human rights;

45.  Insists that girls and women who are victims of war rape must have access to non-discriminatory care, and specifically to comprehensive medical care; insists in this context on the need to ensure the protection of the right to life and dignity of all women and girls by actively combating harmful practices; highlights that the use of rape as a weapon of war and oppression must be eliminated, and that the EU must bring pressure to bear on third-country governments and all stakeholders implicated in regions where such gender-based violence takes place, in order to bring the practice to an end, bring perpetrators to justice and work with survivors, the women affected and communities to help them heal and recover;

46.  Notes the continued progress on the implementation of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls worldwide, which amounted to EUR 270 million committed for programmes in Africa and Latin America in 2018; calls for the EU’s strong leadership on the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies and the support provided to the survivors of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence; reminds the Commission and the EU Member States of the importance of the outcome of the Oslo Conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Crises;

47.  Notes that in 2018 the EU and the UN agreed on a new set of forward-looking priorities for cooperation on peace operations and crisis management for 2019-2021; stresses the need to make the establishment of an EU-UN collaborative platform on WPS an important part of the foreign affairs and security agenda;

48.  Notes that the UN has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and exacerbating all kinds of inequalities, including gender inequality; is deeply concerned by the unequal division of both domestic and public care work, with women making up around 70 % of the global health workforce, the worrisome spike in gender-based violence, partially due to extended periods of confinement, and limited access to reproductive and maternal health; calls therefore for the development of targeted and specific actions to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in women and girls; stresses that adequate funding must be made urgently available to ensure that women’s organisations, human rights defenders and peacebuilders have full and unhindered access to quality technology in order to enable their meaningful participation in decision-making processes during the COVID-19 crisis; emphasises the need for the VP/HR and the Commission to acknowledge the necessity of human security, which includes all aspects of the EU Strategic Approach to WPS; stresses the need to ensure that the implementation of the EU’s global response to COVID-19 is not gender-blind, and that the specific needs of women and other marginalised groups should be addressed appropriately and their involvement throughout the whole programming cycle should be ensured;

o   o

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

(1) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 76, 9.3.2020, p. 168.
(4) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 56.

Last updated: 22 January 2021Legal notice - Privacy policy