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Gender equality in European labour markets (Exploratory opinion from the European Parliament)

EESC opinion: Gender equality in European labour markets (Exploratory opinion from the European Parliament)

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.


Key points

The EESC:

  • considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to adequate policies for improving equality between women and men and to help implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights;
  • reiterates the need to further tackle some well-identified challenges, such as the gender pay gap and work-life balance, and on which the EESC has already issued opinions;
  • urges Member States and the EU to step up implementation the Commission's 2014 Pay Transparency Recommendation, recommends gender neutral pay systems and fully supports the objectives of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) to close the gender pay gap by 2030;
  • fully agrees with the need to reduce gender segregation in education, training and the labour market;
  • requests that more efforts be dedicated to the empowerment and labour-market integration of women belonging to vulnerable groups, taking into account an intersectional approach;
  • recommends that Member States adapt their tax-benefit systems to make them gender neutral and free of disincentives that could deter second earners from working or working more;
  • asks for a renewed reflection with Member States on the 2002 Barcelona targets on childcare, with a view to making the targets more ambitious and extending them to cover care of other dependants;
  • calls on the Parliament and Council to introduce new and adequate indicators in the future European Structural Funds, to better monitor the EU financial contribution to care services and gender equality;
  • calls on the Parliament and the Council to strongly support the InvestEU programme for 2021-2027, which covers investment in the social infrastructure, for it to trigger the necessary investments in childcare (as well as after school care);
  • and finds that female entrepreneurship needs to be fostered in a way that it exploits the enormous potential of the digital economy and technological innovation, and pleads to improve the access to finance of female-led enterprises;
  • takes the view that EU funding should be allocated in a more gender-sensitive manner and that gender equality should be set as a stand-alone goal.