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The EESC adopted this opinion after in-depth work carried out during the four meetings of the study group. The opinion also reflects the national debates with civil society organisations carried out in all Member States between 2 September and 2 November 2016. These discussions were coordinated by three members of the EESC ('trios') from the country concerned, often in cooperation with the European Commission (15 debates) or the national economic and social council (7 debates). Participants came from a wide range of employers' and trade union organisations and other civil society organisations, as well as, to a lesser extent, from the academic world. A total of 116 EESC members and nearly 1,800 representatives of civil society organisations participated in the 28 debates. The conclusions/recommendations of the national debates have been grouped in the opinion, while the reports on the national debates will be published separately.
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.
The EESC welcomes the efforts made by the EC to address the persistent pay gap between men and women by proposing an Action Plan with eight areas for action, but finds that each area should be further developed. It is important to look at the stereotypes that affect career choices, as well as to the underlying causes of labour market segregation, in order to counter them. It agrees with the EC proposal for pay transparency and pay audits to be introduced in order to facilitate the collection of individualised data and develop appropriate action plans at sector and business level. Moreover, it welcomes the EC recognition of the crucial role social partners play in this, while also highlighting the contribution of civil society organisations. Finally, it insists on the need to obtain additional resources, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework, to implement the Action Plan, including the financing of childcare facilities and long-term care services.
It needs different and holistic approaches to address gender inequality, says the EESC
The digital gender gap is a consequence of discrimination against women, which already starts in early childhood, the EESC points out. In its exploratory opinion on the digital gender gap, drafted at the European Parliament's request, the EESC suggests a multi-level approach and calls for holistic policies addressing different sources of inequality.
Europe loses EUR 370 billion a year due to the gender employment gap. What's more, it is statistically proven that companies with more gender-diverse management boards produce better results. So, why might it take another 217 years to close the economic gender gap at global level, as estimated by the World Economic Forum? On 17 December, high-level speakers from the worlds of business, politics and NGOs came together with members of the Employers' Group to discuss how to leverage the immense potential that women could bring to the European economy.
Despite the general progress on gender equality, at this pace it will take more than a century for women to become equal to men in Europe, says the EESC
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has urged the European Union and its Member States to put gender equality at the top of their political agenda amid concerns that recent attacks on women's rights in Europe might seriously compromise progress towards equality between men and women.
Applications for 2019 are now open
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has launched its Civil Society Prize for 2019. This year's theme is More women in Europe's society and economy, and the prize will honour innovative initiatives and projects which aim to fight for equal opportunities for women and men and their equal treatment in all spheres of economic and social life.