In addition to being an aim in itself, equality between women and men is a prerequisite for meeting the EU's aims for growth, employment and social cohesion.
The Mid-term assessment of the roadmap for equality is taking place at a time of economic crisis. It is important to note the impact and consequences of this crisis on women and men, given their different positions in society.
Equality should be mainstreamed into all policies, especially social and employment policies.
Both the quantity and the quality of female employment should be improved, and the self-employed should be supported.
Unequal pay has structural causes: occupational and sectoral segregation, precarious employment, breaks in working life, etc. Legislation and collective agreements are effective instruments for tackling the issue of unequal pay.
The greater presence of women in business and political activities fosters equality, women's economic independence, victory over gender stereotypes and the promotion of women in the decision-making process.
Women are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion and poverty. Tailoring social rights to individual needs, a guaranteed minimum income and taking into account periods of inactivity and reduced working hours enabling women to take care of a relative/dependent are further important measures that should be taken.
To achieve equality and improve jobs for women, high-quality public social services and improvements to existing maternity, paternity and parental leave are needed, together with a fair division of household and caring tasks.
In order to promote equal representation of women in decision-making, the Member States must make a greater commitment, by setting clear goals and implementing effective measures such as positive action, equality plans, etc.
Given the persistence of gender-based violence and human trafficking, the enforcement of current legislation needs to be guaranteed and national action plans drawn up, coordinated by a European strategy.
To combat sexist stereotypes, it is essential to educate society along non-sexist lines, encouraging more women to study science and technology, attaching greater value to jobs viewed as 'female' and avoiding sexism in the media.
Use should be made of the EU's foreign and development policy to promote women's rights on the international stage, improving their skills and empowerment.
Gender analysis needs to be fully mainstreamed into all of the Commission's spheres of activity and should be recognised in European and national budgets.
In the new equality strategy to be followed from 2010, greater political involvement is required at all levels, as is a proactive review of the work accomplished.