European & International News

MEPs call for binding targets to ensure equal representation

[European Parliament, Brussels, 28 January 2011] A report aiming to address and tackle existing challenges related to achieving gender equality was on 27 January adopted by an overwhelming majority in the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee. Equality between women and men has a positive effect on economic growth, said MEPs, pointing out that, according to several studies, GDP would increase by 30% if women’s employment, part-time employment and productivity rates were similar to men.

The 2010 annual report on equality between women and men in the EU drafted by Maria NEDELCHEVA (EPP, BG) was adopted by 22 votes in favour, 2 against and no abstentions.

Yes to ’quota’ for equal representation in politics and economy

Only 3% of major companies are chaired by a woman. Member States should therefore take effective measures, such as quotas, to ensure greater representation for women in major listed companies and on the management boards of companies in general, said MEPs in their resolution, giving Norway as a positive example, now being followed by Spain and France.

Efforts made at European level should be stepped up to increase women’s representation in politics. Advocating also greater participation for women in all European institutions, the Women’s Rights committee called for binding targets to ensure the equal representation of women and men. Further efforts must also be made at national, regional and municipal level.

Tackling gender stereotyping through diverse education

Member States should encourage girls not to neglect jobs in sectors such as ecology, the environment or new technologies. They should also ensure that girls are not pushed automatically into traditionally feminised sectors and careers through awareness programmes within the education sector. It is important, the Women’s Rights committee said, to promote diversification of school and career choices.

Better childcare facilities to reconcile family and working life

The setting up or improvement of childcare facilities such as crèches and nurseries with a view to providing good quality affordable child care services to as many people as possible should be encouraged, thus supporting parents and making it easier for them to enter the workforce.

To better combine working and caring, it is necessary to improve child-related leave, said MEPs. They called, therefore, on the Council for a speedy adoption of a common position on the Parliament’s legislative resolution of 20 October 2010 on the revision of the ’maternity leave directive’.

Gender pay gap & poverty

Women are at a disadvantage on the labour market. They are more likely to be employed on part-time or involuntary short-term contracts or at lower rates of pay than men, stated MEPs in their resolution. This disparity is reflected in terms of pensions, putting women at a higher risk of poverty than men.

EU Member States should implement legislation on equal pay for equal work properly, said the Women’s Rights committee, calling on the Commission to apply sanctions for non-compliant Member States.

Despite the efforts and progress made, there continues to be disparities in pay between men and women, averaging 18% in the EU and even exceeding 30% in one Member State.

Combating violence against women inter alia by accepting the agreement on the European Protection Order

Welcoming the efforts made at EU and national level to combat violence against women, members of the Women’s Rights committee stressed that this remained a serious, unresolved problem. They also welcomed the resumption of debate on this form of violence, notably via the establishment of a European protection order and the Directive on Human Trafficking. MEPs stressed the need for the Council and the Commission to accept the agreement reached in the European Parliament on the European Protection Order so that the Directive can enter into force as soon as possible.

Member States should take measures to ensure access to support services aimed at preventing gender-based violence and protecting women from such violence regardless of their legal status, race, age, sexual orientation, ethnic origin or religion.

In the chair: Edite Estrela (S&D, PT)

Source: European Parliament Press Service; Email:

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