Combating all forms of discrimination is one of the aims of the EU, as enshrined in the Treaties. Yet, Member States have never agreed on the Directive proposed by the European Commission in 2008, which would have extended the existing EU protection against discrimination to all policy areas. Such a situation has created an "artificial hierarchy of protected grounds" whereby areas such as sex, and racial or ethnic origin, enjoy wider protection than other grounds like religion or belief, age, disability and sexual orientation. This Own-Initiative Opinion seeks to address this situation, by recalling the need to adopt a comprehensive directive, but by proposing complementary actions notably based on the recognition of the general principle of equality.
The situation of women with disabilities (exploratory opinion requested by the European Parliament) - Related Opinions
The EESC welcomes the new EU Disability Rights Strategy, acknowledging that it is a clear step forward compared with the previous one. It is however concerned about the lack of binding measures and hard legislation implementing the Strategy.
Among other recommendations, the Committee regrets the lack of specific actions addressing the needs of women and girls with disabilities and calls for a specific flagship initiative in the second half of the period of the Strategy. It also calls for the full involvement and participation of organisations of persons with disabilities in the proposed Disability Platform. As regarding the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the EESC feels it should be strongly linked to the Disability Strategy and used to help persons with disabilities recovering from the pandemic.
This opinion, requested by the German Presidency of the Council, makes the following main recommendations:
- data collection and monitoring of diversity policies in the labour market must be improved at all levels;
- the principles of diversity management must be integrated into EU rules and generalised;
- more funds should be allocated to diversity management, in order to support the work of civil society organisations working with racialized groups and the diversity policies put in place by the social partners;
- to tackle the underutilisation of migrants' skills and increase their participation in the labour market, these need to be further recognised. In addition, migrants should benefit from free and universal training, including language courses;
- migrants should be active, not only in the labour market, but also in politics;
In this opinion the EESC makes the following points:
1. The EU and Member States should ensure that the gender perspective is fully integrated in COVID-19 recovery measures.
2. Gender equality should be fully taken into account in the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
3. The Gender Equality Strategy should be coordinated involving all Member States, social partners and civil society organisations.
4. To put an end to the gender pay gap (16%), binding measures on gender pay transparency are unavoidable.
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Gender equality is not only a human rights issue; it is a social and economic necessity for the EU, its Member States and businesses, as it hugely impacts on sustainable growth and GDP, while allowing to use the potential of 51% of the EU population. The EU needs to elevate gender equality to a stand-alone goal with a binding strategy, centred in the following measures: fighting the economic inequality affecting women and the current backlash of their rights; ratifying and implementing the Istanbul Convention on all forms of violence against women (including harassment); addressing once and for all gendered stereotypes, namely through the media; and supporting civil society organisations working for greater gender equality.