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Stereotyping women? – In Focus

Stereotyping women? - In Focus

© Aleksandar Todorovic / Fotolia

Could some of the many gender-related issues originate from stereotyping of women? How could society change its reliance on out-dated stereotypes, coming from tradition or the media, traditional ways of thinking, or some cultural traditions that originate in ages past? The EP is trying to find answers to these questions while tackling global gender-related issues.

Different international institutions have chosen to focus on various annual themes in gender issues, reflecting the hottest problems in our daily life. For 2014 the EP has decided to focus on violence against women. Every year, in the first week of March, gender issues get a session under the “magnifying glass”, as we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March.

One-fifth of the female population – victims of violence

Speaking of victims of violence, the first thought that comes to mind is violence against women. In February 2014, the EP adopted a legislative initiative report, with recommendations to the Commission on combating violence against women (rapporteur Antonyia Parvanova, ALDE, Bulgaria). The report calls on the Commission to prepare a legislative proposal establishing measures to encourage and support Member States’ actions in the field of preventing violence against women.

Speaking of victims of violence, the first thought that comes to mind is violence against women.Violence against women is a complex, omnipresent problem in the EU, affecting, in one way or the other, around one fifth of the female population,” says the EAVA Assessment “Combating violence against women”. This violation of human rights, a form of genderbased discrimination, is rooted in inequalities between men and women; and takes many forms. The situation in Europe and how the EU has tackled the issue, are reflected in our briefing Violence against women in the EU: state of play / FR version/. Among the different forms of violence are counted female genital mutilation (FGM), gendercide (the widespread preference for sons), rape, trafficking in women etc. What can be done to tackle these types of violence in the EU and world-wide? Could strengthening victims’ rights help?  Read about the rights of victims of crime: state of play and prospects for EU action.

Only one-quarter of EU members of parliament are women

Across the EU, women are still largely outnumbered by men in high positions of political responsibility. In the EU Member States, women represent only around 27% of members of parliament and government ministers. Although major progress has been made over the years, even in the European Parliament today, women only account for 36% of members. To illustrate, see our statistical note: Women in politics, business and public administration in the EU, and key source The “Glass Ceiling”: Women in management positions in private and public sector and in politics. The infographic Women in parliaments provides information on gender representation in the EP and national parliaments. It also reflects legislative gender quotas for the EP elections. Our key source Female Political Representation – the use of Electoral Gender Quotas presents facts and figures, overviews and recent analysis on the subject.

In the autumn of 2013 the Women in Parliaments Global Forum 2013 Annual Summit took place in the EP, bringing together hundreds of female Parliamentarians and Women in politics from all over the world. For this event EPRS prepared country background notes on the countries which were granted awards, having fared best in terms of women’s political empowerment and closing the gender gap, based on the rankings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. 

Only 17% of members of companies’ boards are women, and only 4% presidents 

Stereotyping women?

© Andres Rodriguez / Fotolia

The lower involvement of women in business can be explained either by the obstacles women often face – in comparison to men – in starting up a business of their own, or by different motivations between men and women, or by certain psychological traits in men and women, giving them different attitudes towards self-employment. Is this a brake on Women’s entrepreneurship in the EU? Is the smaller number of women in business due to their level of education or number of children, or even due to the economy or national character? Or is the brake related to gender stereotypes? Read Female entrepreneurs and gendered obstacles.

Although the number of women on company boards is growing, they remain under-represented. Is a greater gender balance needed and how could that be attained – the question posed in our briefing Gender balance on company boards.

10.9% of women unemployed in 2013 – are European women also victims of economic crisis?

The crisis has been repeatedly considered “male-dominated” as male unemployment figures rose more dramatically in the early stages of recession. Academics have asked whether women are more vulnerable to the effects of crises than men. Past experience cannot provide sufficient insight into the gender impact of this crisis as the position of women has changed considerably since the last major recession. Read analyses and overviews on Gender aspects of the crisis. 

Only 4.6% females in UN Peacekeeping Missions 

Army girl

© Vojtech Soukup / Fotolia

Women’s roles in conflict are often poorly understood and may be consciously or unconsciously disregarded. Women are usually seen as the victims in conflict zones. In recent years the international community has become more responsive to women’s diverse roles as actors in conflict prevention, security and peace building. There is understanding that the EU’s response to this must be broadened and encouraged. In Women, peace and security you can read recent overviews and of analysis on why it is necessary to involve women in peace negotiations and in security.

Find more gender-related topics in our blog!

Stereotyping women - Women's week

About EPRSauthor

European Parliamentary Research Service of the European Parliament. The EPRS offers the best available research and analytical support to Members of the European Parliament, their staff, parliamentary committees and, of course, to you!

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The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. Copyright © European Union, 2014. All rights reserved

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