Women with disabilities constitute 16% of the total population of women in Europe, which means in the EU there are approximately 40 million women and girls with disabilities.
Women with disabilities face intersectional discrimination in all areas of life, including, socio-economic disadvantages, social isolation, violence against women, forced sterilisation and abortion, lack of access to community services, low-quality housing, institutionalisation, inadequate health care and denial of the opportunity to contribute and engage actively in society.
A large number of Roma women and girls continue to face multiple discrimination in various areas, ranging from health to employment and education, amongst others. They also have limited opportunities to influence the policies that most concern them. The EESC emphasises the importance of their involvement, with programmes aimed at Roma women foreseeing a majority of Roma women in their planning and implementation. The EESC calls for an end to segregated education and for the abolition of health practices which infringe ethical standards.
The opinion therefore pleads for the gender dimension to be incorporated into the National Reform Plans (NRP) and the European semester and for the Community Funds to invest more in gender equality. It highlights the important role of the social partners in achieving the needed gender mainstreaming and that of the Commission in providing the necessary gender indicators. It calls for common efforts to promote gender equality in society, eliminate structural inequalities and change gender roles.
This opinion responds to a request from European Parliament for an exploratory opinion on gender equality in European labour markets, which had put a special emphasis on the pay situation and care obligations.
The opinion considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to policies for improving equality between women and men and to help implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. It reiterates the EESC positions on the gender pay gap and work-life balance and recommends gender neutral pay systems. It pleads to fight gender segregation in education, training and the labour market, in particular of women belonging to vulnerable groups.
This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament to feed into a mission to Tallinn, Estonia, on "Digitalisation and the women's role", organised by the EP's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) on 19-21 September 2018. The opinion looks into the digital gender gap in education system and the labour market. It analyses the reasons behind this phenomenon it and makes proposals on how to increase the participation of girls in STEM and ICT studies and boost the presence of women in the digital sector. It also looks into the pros and cons of digitalisation and its impact on women's life-work balance.
The EESC welcomes the proposal for a directive for improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on the stock exchange with a minimum objective of 40% by 2020. The EESC and the Commission recognise the need to respect the freedom to conduct business. This directive is a minimum standard which seeks to improve the conditions for business prosperity and allows Member States to progress beyond the measures recommended.