Written by Clare Ferguson with Sophia Stone.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) is organising the third European Gender Equality Week at the end of October 2022. Events on the agenda cover gender inequality within different policy sectors. The week includes: a hearing on the regional impact of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan (Committee on Foreign Affairs); a presentation of the ‘Gender Dimension and Impact of the ‘Fitfor55’ package study (FEMM); an exchange of views on the directive on combating violence against women (Committee on Legal Affairs); and a hearing on how to change the EU Treaties to achieve more gender equality in the EU (Committee on Constitutional Affairs). Additionally, the European Institute for Gender Equality is hosting the first Gender Equality Forum on 24 and 25 October, following the presentation of the 2022 Gender Equality Index (FEMM). The aim of Parliament’s European Gender Equality Week is to draw attention to gender inequalities – both to longstanding issues such as the gender pay gap and to more recent crises perpetuated by Russia in Ukraine, requiring a gendered approach within humanitarianism. Considering the gender dimension on different policy levels is necessary to create equal opportunities for both genders, something that benefits the whole of our society. The European Union adopted gender mainstreaming as its official approach to gender equality in 1997. The European Commission defines gender mainstreaming as ‘not restricting efforts to promote equality to the implementation of specific measures to help women, but mobilising all general policies and measures specifically for the purpose of achieving equality’. The EU 2020‑2025 gender-equality strategy defines the priorities to achieve this, for instance by ending gender-based violence, addressing pay and pension gaps, gender balance in decision making positions at work and ending the gender care gap. However, despite great efforts, much change still needs to happen and Parliament is keen to advance legislation for a more just society.
Underlying the unequal consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic are other persisting issues, where progress is slow. Parliament is particularly concerned about the gender pay gap, in which women earn less than men for the same work – a measurable indicator of inequality. An intersectional approach shows that women with children, women of colour, women with a migration background, or women with disabilities experience the gender pay gap more widely. Efforts to decrease pay discrimination and improve pay transparency aim at strengthening the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work‘ to improve victims’ access to justice on pay discrimination.
Gender stereotyping is the generalised view of what men or women are like and what they ought to be doing. In some cases, people move away from these generalisations and work in sectors in which their important role goes unnoticed, such as with women in the fishing industry or women in transport. Women in both sectors experience under-representation and working conditions consequently are not suited to women’s needs. Parliament is championing greater participation and simultaneously strengthening women’s position as workers in these industries, as a necessary step to ensuring women’s access to all labour markets and that employers can find enough staff.
Finally, gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender and that affects them disproportionately. Gender-based violence predominantly affects women, leading to reduced mental and physical health, quality of life and a loss of economic output. The EU does not have a specific legal instrument to combat gender-based physical or cyber violence. Parliament first called for a directive on preventing and combating all forms of violence against women in 2009. More recently, the European Commission proposed a directive on combating violence and domestic violence in March 2022. The proposal aims to provide minimum rules on the level of protection against violence taking place online and offline across the EU.
- Exploring gender equality across policy areas
- Combatting gender based cyber-violence
- Combating violence against women and domestic violence
- Topical Digest: Gender equality across policy areas