EU Gender equality strategy 2020-2025

In “A New Push for European Democracy”

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Full gender equality is far from being achieved, and this has implications for the lives and life chances of individual women, girls, boys and men, the communities they live in and the EU as a whole.

The European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has identified gender equality as a major theme and objective of her Commission (2019-2024). In her political guidelines, she promised a new EU gender equality strategy to underpin this political commitment and support long-term work inside and outside the EU.

The Commission included a proposal for a new EU Strategy on Gender Equality in its work programme for 2020 under the sixth priority - 'A New Push for European Democracy'. The strategy, which takes the form of a Commission Communication, was adopted on 5 March 2020.

The strategy maintains the existing dual emphasis on gender mainstreaming across EU policies and targeted measures to tackle persistent or emerging gender inequalities. It is structured around three priorities:

  • combating gender-based violence and challenging gender stereotypes: here targeted measures include concluding EU accession to the Istanbul Convention, considering legislative measures to address violence against women, launching an EU-wide communication campaign to combat gender stereotypes and ensuring that the European approach to AI is grounded in core EU values, including non-discrimination and gender equality;
  • boosting women’s economic empowerment and ensuring equal opportunities in the labour market, including equal pay: here measures include supporting effective implementation of existing EU legislation (in particular the work-life balance directive) and a proposal for binding pay transparency measures to address the gender pay gap;
  • giving both women and men the opportunity to lead and participate in all sectors of the economy and in political life: here measures will include pushing for the adoption of the 2012 proposal for a Directive on improving the gender balance on corporate boards.

The strategy also addresses 'intersectionality' to take account of the interplay between gender and characteristics such as age, ethnicity, sexual identity and orientation, and disability. Other cross-cutting priorities include the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality and the cumulative impacts of gender inequalities through the life cycle. In respect of external relations, the strategy is complemented by a new gender action plan (referred to as GAP III).

Several of the legislative proposals referred to above - on gender balance on corporate boards, pay transparency, preventing and combating specific forms of gender-based violence and artificial intelligence - were included in the Joint Declaration on EU Legislative Priorities for 2022:

  • On 6 June 2022, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on a directive on gender balance on corporate boards. The agreement is now subject to formal approval by Parliament and the Council.
  • The proposal on artificial intelligence is being discussed by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council (EU Member states).
  • The Commission adopted a proposal for a directive on on equal pay for equal work between men and women (pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms) on 4 March 2022. In April 2022, Parliament adopted its position for negotiations with the Council and Commission, which began in June 2022.
  • The Commission put forward a proposal for a directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence on 8 March 2022.

The European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) adopted an own-initiative report on the gender equality strategy (2019/2169(INI)) (rapporteur, Maria Noichl, S&D, Germany), which was put to plenary in January 2021. Parliament's resolution on the new Gender Equality Strategy welcomes it as a strong sign of political commitment to European gender equality policies and as a clear and ambitious policy framework for achieving women's rights and gender equality, particularly in the light of the recent backlash in this area and the gendered impacts of the pandemic. However, it also asks the Commission to ensure that the strategy is implemented flexibly to respond to new developments and to adopt a roadmap, with time frames, objectives, an annual review and monitoring mechanism, clear and measurable indicators of success and additional targeted actions.

The Council issued conclusions on gender-equal economies in the EU, with a view to providing input into the new gender equality strategy. The German, Portuguese and Slovenian presidencies strongly backed the strategy and stressed the need to adapt it in the light of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Employment and social policy ministers discussed the implementation of the strategy at their meeting on 3 December 2020. The trio programme of the French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies (1 January 2022 -30 June 2023) pledges to make the Union’s Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 a reality for all.

The European Economic and Social Committee has also called on the Commission to ensure that the strategy takes account of the negative repercussions of the crisis for gender equality and to implement the strategy urgently (co-rapporteurs Giulia Barbucci (Workers - Group II, Italy and Indrė Vareikytė (Diversity Europe - Group III, Lithuania). The European Committee of the Regions (rapporteur: Concepción Andreu Rodríguez, Spain, PES) has called for local and regional governments be recognised as strategic partners in the design, implementation and monitoring of the strategy and asked the Commission to establish an interinstitutional working group to ensure multilevel governance.


Further reading

Linked legislative train carriages

For information on the European Parliament's previous recommendations for a new gender equality strategy during the 2014-2019 term, see the legislative train carriage, Post-2015 strategy on equality between women and men

Author: Rosamund Shreeves, Members' Research Service,

Read more on the Parliaments' fight for gender equality in the EU

As of 20/11/2022.