EESC opinion: The roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010) and follow-up strategy

Key points

  • 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.