Tag Archives: Gender equality

Strategy for gender equality in development policy

Strategy for gender equality in development policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for gender equality in development policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Strategy for gender equality in development policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 8 March 2007 – Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development Cooperation [COM(2007) 100 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Equal opportunities are a key factor for sustainable development, especially in areas where this inequality is more pronounced in developing countries, i.e.:

  • employment and economic activities, because most women work in the informal sectors, with low productivity and incomes, poor working conditions and little or no social protection;
  • governance, as in many countries women are marginalised as decision-makers. In order to protect the fundamental human rights of women, legislation ensuring equal rights for men and women must also be accompanied by implementation;
  • access to education, where gender equality is related in particular to the responsibility of women for everyday tasks in the household;
  • health, as women have limited access to basic health services, especially in the sphere of sexual and reproductive health;
  • gender-based violence.

The Commission recognises that there has been considerable progress towards gender equality in development cooperation. This is increasingly becoming part of the dialogue with partner countries and the EU’s consultations with civil society. In addition, there has been progress in gender equality projects and programmes and in capacity-building in Member States and the Commission.

Nevertheless, the Commission emphasises that certain challenges remain regarding:

  • the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially in eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education. Moreover, the MDGs adopt an approach confined to the health and education aspects of gender equality and neglect other dimensions of equality;
  • the presence of social and cultural obstacles associated with traditional social structures which are not conducive to changes in the traditional division of power between men and women;
  • gender mainstreaming, which has not been fully integrated into the country strategies and the implementation of EU development cooperation.

Objectives of the strategy

The first objective of the EU strategy is to increase the efficiency of gender mainstreaming. This implies actions in three areas:

  • at political level, the Commission stresses the importance of discussing gender equality with the partner countries at the highest level;
  • in development cooperation, the Commission proposes:

    1. establishing effective dialogue with relevant stakeholders in the preparation of country strategies and aid programmes;
    2. putting in place mutual accountability mechanisms;
    3. using performance indicators;
    4. linking the disbursement of incentive tranches to gender-sensitive indicators;
  • in institutional capacity-building, the Commission recommends using practical tools in the assessment and implementation phases. It also stresses the need to provide improved access to information and best practices and gender training for partner countries and staff.

The second objective is to refocus specific actions for women’s empowerment in partner countries. The Commission has notably identified the following fields of action:

  • governance, especially women’s political empowerment, promotion of human rights, development of gender-sensitive indicators, development of the role of women in conflict and post conflict situations;
  • employment and economic activities, especially promotion of the economic and social empowerment of women, equal treatment of men and women at work, analysis of the gender equality budget and public finance management based on a gender equality perspective;
  • education, especially abolishing school fees, adopting incentives to send girls to school, improving the school environment, enhancing gender equality awareness among adolescents and adult literacy;
  • health, especially promotion of social protection schemes for impoverished women and protection of sexual and reproductive health (for example, through HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns and training of traditional midwives to reduce the mortality of mothers and children in rural areas);
  • gender-based violence, especially reform of the legislation on the subject, victim protection, awareness-raising through media, education and training of military and judicial personnel.

Implementation

The Commission underlines the importance of the ownership of development cooperation initiatives by the women beneficiaries themselves, through participation in civil society organisations (CSOs) and Community-based organisations. The EU needs in particular to promote the emergence of CSOs supporting gender equality where they do not exist and ensure capacity-building of the existing CSOs.

The financing of the aid is to be paid on the basis of the improvements in gender equality indicators. In addition, gender responsiveness is to be integrated into the preparation of the budgets of the partner countries at national and local levels. This requires re-prioritisation of expenditure, re-orientation of programmes within sectors to achieve gender equality and monitoring of government revenue and expenditure.

The national poverty reduction strategies must analyse the gender equality situation of a country to understand all its implications for growth and poverty. The Commission emphasises that these national strategies should encompass a wider definition of poverty extending beyond a lack of financial resources. They should also accept the contribution of civil society to the formulation and monitoring of the strategies.

Finally, the Commission stresses the importance of coordination and harmonisation with Member States through regular meetings and exchange of best practices. In addition, the EU will continue to foster debate on gender equality at international and regional levels, in particular by stressing the importance of extending the scope beyond the areas of health and education.

Specific actions by the Commission

To implement this strategy, the Commission proposes actions in three areas, i.e.:

  • country programming (national and regional strategies), especially:

    1. the further development of programming guidelines;
    2. the systematic gender assessment of country strategies;
    3. the adjustment of strategies according to the results of these assessments;
    4. the building of partnerships with relevant international organisations (such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women – UNIFEM – and the International Labour Organisation – ILO) which have significant experience in mainstreaming gender equality into programmes;
  • multi-annual thematic programmes under the financial perspectives 2007-2013, which can support gender equality in the fields of human resources, the environment and food security;
  • other financial instruments to support gender equality, notably the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Instrument for Stability.

Background

In 2001 the “Programme of Action for the mainstreaming of gender equality in Community Development Cooperation 2001-2006” provided the basis for capacity building within the European Commission in this field.

Subsequently Regulation (EC) No 1567/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which expired on 31 December 2006, established a financial framework for the implementation of actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights.

In addition, Regulation (EC) No 806/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which expired on 31 December 2006, provided for a budget of EUR 9 million to finance specific actions in this field. Finally, the European Consensus of 2005 identified gender equality as one of the fundamental objectives to reduce poverty.

Related Acts

Commission working document of 8 March 2010 – EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development [SEC(2010) 265 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission has presented a Plan of Action 2010-2015 in order to implement the strategy in the above-mentioned Communication and thereby reinforce the promotion of gender equality in developing countries. This Plan of Action contributes towards the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives of the United Nations Convention against all forms of discrimination against women.
In this perspective, the Commission shall in particular:

  • develop the EU’s capacity for action and its lead role in defending gender equality at global level;
  • discuss gender equality in the context of the political dialogue between the EU and developing countries;
  • integrate the promotion of gender equality into the projects financed by the EU and develop reliable indicators in order to assess the progress achieved;
  • encourage the participation of civil society in developing countries;
  • improve the management and transparency of European financing;
  • support UN action for the protection of women in conflicts, through the implementation of the United Nations Resolution on Women, Peace and Security (Resolutions 1325 of 2000 and 1889 of 2009).

Gender balance within the committees and expert groups set up by the Commission

Gender balance within the committees and expert groups set up by the Commission

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Gender balance within the committees and expert groups set up by the Commission

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Gender balance within the committees and expert groups set up by the Commission

To achieve equal representation of women and men in the expert groups and committees set up by the Commission.

2) Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 2000/407/EC of 19 June 2000 relating to gender balance within the committees and expert groups established by it [Official Journal L 154 of 27.06.2000].

3) Summary

Equality between women and men is essential to human dignity and democracy. It constitutes a fundamental principle of Community law, of the constitutions and laws of the Members States, and of international and European conventions. The European Union (EU) has committed itself to an active policy of gender mainstreaming for women and men in all Community activities and policies. The Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005), adopted in June 2000, reaffirms this commitment and the EU’s intention to reduce and ultimately eliminate inequalities between the sexes.

At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), the European Community committed itself to promoting women in decision-making. However, despite the Council Recommendation of 2 December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process, women are still under-represented in decision-making bodies, including those established by the Commission.

For this reason, the Commission commits itself in this Decision to creating a gender balance in expert groups and committees established by it. The aim in the medium term is to ensure that there are at least 40% of members of each sex in every expert group and committee.

For expert groups and committees already in existence, the Commission will aim to redress the gender balance upon each replacement of a member and when the term of a member of an expert group or committee comes to an end.

Three years after the adoption of the present Decision the Commission shall review its implementation and publish a report, which shall include statistical analysis of the gender balance in expert groups and committees. Depending on the results of this review the Commission shall, at that time, take whatever action is appropriate.

Act Date
of entry into force
Decision 2000/407/EC 27.06.2000

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Annual Commission Report of 5 March 2003 on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2002 [COM(2003) 98 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Annual Commission Report of 28 May 2002 on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2001 [COM(2002) 258 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Annual Commission Report of 2 April 2001 on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2000 [COM(2001) 179 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Council Decision 2001/51/EC of 20 December 2000 establishing a Programme relating to the Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005) [Official Journal L17 of 19.01.2001];

Communication from the Commission of 7 July 2000 on the Commission Decision relating to a gender balance within the committees and expert groups established by it [Official Journal C 203 of 18.07.2000];

Communication from the Commission of 7 June 2000 – “Towards a community framework strategy on gender equality” [COM(2000) 335 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Equal opportunities report 2001

Equal opportunities report 2001

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Equal opportunities report 2001

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Equal opportunities report 2001

To present an overview of the main developments and achievements in the field of equal opportunities in 2001 – at both European and national level – and to describe the outlook for 2002.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission, of 28 May 2002, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2001 [COM(2002) 258 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005)

The Community framework strategy, adopted in June 2000, is aimed both at integrating the gender dimension in all Community policies that have an impact on the equal opportunities objective (principle of mainstreaming) and at promoting the introduction of specific measures to reduce inequalities. In 2001, noticeable progress was made with regard to both the integration of gender issues in the various policies and the introduction of specific measures.

As regards the mainstreaming of gender equality in Community policies, significant advances were noted in a number of areas, including the following:

  • enterprise: a study aimed at identifying and evaluating good practices in relation to the promotion of female entrepreneurship was launched, while another study to assess the gender impact of the “Innovation and SMEs” specific programme within the 5th framework research programme (1998-2002) was finalised and published recently.
  • Broad Economic Policy Guidelines: the Belgian Presidency of the European Union (EU) – July-December 2001 – launched an initiative to strengthen gender mainstreaming in the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines;
  • the Barcelona process: under the MEDA programme for cooperation with southern Mediterranean countries, a regional forum on the role of women in economic development was held in Brussels in July 2001;
  • education and continuing training: an action plan for gender equality (2001-2002) was adopted by the Socrates Committee in February 2001. The first phase is concerned with evaluating the gender dimension and the second phase with identifying indicators for improving the implementation of gender equality;
  • humanitarian aid: in 2001, the European Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) continued to incorporate the gender dimension in humanitarian aid. For example, it funded projects focusing on the specific needs of women, particularly in Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan;
  • the employment strategy: in connection with the adoption of the annual employment package, on 12 September 2001 the Commission sent a set of recommendations to eleven Member States encouraging them to strengthen equality between women and men;
  • combating violence and trafficking: implementation of the DAPHNE and STOP programmes continued in 2001 and the Commission adopted a new STOP II programme (to run until 2003). The implementation of the STOP II programme provided an opportunity to focus on assisting and protecting women who are the victims of violence;
  • the social inclusion process: in June 2001, the Member States drew up their first biennial national action plans based on common objectives to combat poverty and social exclusion. In these plans, most Member States identified higher risks of poverty and social exclusion among elderly women, single parents and victims of domestic violence. Even though many Member States are committed to enhancing the mainstreaming of the gender dimension over the next two years, there is still a lot to be done to find a consistent approach to gender needs and characteristics across all the strands of these plans.

As provided for in Decision 2000/407/EC of 19 June 2007, the Commission is committed to achieving a male/female balance in committees and expert groups, with a target of 40% minimum participation of both women and men. Following a first survey in 2000 among certain expert groups of the Commission in which an average of only 13.5% of the members were women, a second, much more comprehensive survey was conducted in 2001. In that year, the average percentage of women in all the Commission’s committees and expert groups was 28.8%. Among the members of those committees and expert groups for which the Commission had the right of appointment, 30.5% were women, whilst among the committees and groups on whose membership the Commission had no influence 28.4% were women.

The Member States continued to carry out a whole series of activities aimed at promoting equality between women and men and mainstreaming the gender dimension. The many initiatives taken include the example set by Austria, which adopted a project aimed at increasing the presence of women in the technology sector, especially IT. In Sweden, the law on equality between men and women was strengthened in January 2001. In the United Kingdom, a new government telephone helpline “Equality Direct” – backed up by a website – designed to provide firms with free information and advice on all equality-related issues was set up.

Equal pay was the priority theme chosen for 2001 under the Community framework strategy on gender equality and the associated funding programme. It was chosen because it is the most visible inequality in the European labour market. Despite the existence of legal provisions on this subject, women still earn an average of 14% less than men (in 1997, this difference was more pronounced in the private sector – 19% – than in the public sector – 10%).

The high profile given to the issue of equal pay was reflected in the conclusions of the Stockholm European Council (March 2001), which called on the Council and the Commission to develop appropriate indicators. This preparatory work enabled the Belgian Presidency to produce a set of indicators on pay differentials between women and men. Moreover, in September 2001 the European Parliament adopted a report on equal pay, which confirmed that a diversified approach would have to be adopted by all parties, whether European institutions, Member States or social partners, in order to obtain tangible results. The European Employment Strategy also plays an important part in achieving the objective of equal pay. Following the evaluation of the national plans for 2001, certain Member States announced various initiatives aimed at reducing pay differentials. However, the efforts will have to be continued if these initiatives are to come to anything and the social partners are to take an active part. Lastly, it is important to stress that the majority of the 27 projects selected in 2001 under the action programme address the issue of equal pay. Their funding amounts to a total of around 8 million euro. The first results of these projects are expected in 2003.

The following priority themes have been chosen for the programme on gender equality over the next few years:

  • 2001-2002: equal pay;
  • 2002-2003: reconciliation of work and family life;
  • 2003-2004: women in decision-making;
  • 2004-2005: gender stereotyping.

Legal developments

Substantial progress was made in 2001 on the proposal to amend the 1976 Directive on equal treatment in employment. The amended Directive is expected to break new ground in a number of important areas, including:

  • recognition of sexual harassment as discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • encouraging employers to prepare annual equality plans;
  • strengthening of the provisions concerning the judicial protection and compensation available to individuals in the event of discrimination;
  • strengthening of persons’ rights regarding maternity or paternity leave.

In response to questions put by national courts about cases relating to gender equality, the Court of Justice of the European Communities handed down three major rulings in 2001:

  • the judgements given in the Melgar and Tele Danmark cases, according to which instances of dismissal or non-renewal of an open-ended employment contract by reason of pregnancy constitute direct and unjustifiable discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • the Menauer case, in which the Court held that German pension funds entrusted with administering occupational pension schemes were bound by the principle of equal pay in the same way as an employer;
  • the Griesmar and Mouflin cases relating to two provisions of the French Civil and Military Pensions Code that discriminate against men, which were declared incompatible with Community law.

As regards the main developments in Member States’ legislation, a Finnish collective agreement provides that every sector can henceforth create a special equality allowance, which is designed to raise the remuneration of women who are not paid sufficiently well despite the difficulty of their work and their education in traditionally low-paid industrial sectors. In Denmark, the Equal Pay Act has been amended so that it is now more transparent. As far as national case law is concerned, the UK Employment Appeals Tribunal has broadened the definition of “comparator” so as to allow an employee of a local authority to compare him or herself with an employee of another local authority even where the two salary scales had been agreed independently. Paternity leave has been introduced in Greece and legislation on this subject has been proposed in France, Finland and the UK. Moreover, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands have introduced legislation on the extension of maternity leave.

Equality in the enlargement process

The work of transposing European legislation on equal opportunities is under way in the candidate countries, some of which already obtained good results in 2001. However, the legislation in itself is not sufficient. The introduction of support mechanisms is just as essential to the achievement of gender equality. In this context, it is vital to have institutional and administrative structures that facilitate the implementation of and respect for rights relating to equality. Substantial efforts still need to be made in this direction.

Outlook for 2002

In 2002, the spotlight will be on reconciliation of work and family life. Various initiatives will be launched at European level in order to raise the profile of this issue, to finance transnational projects, to improve the statistics and indicators and to draw up a report on the application of the parental leave Directive.

The Commission will also submit a proposal for a directive on discrimination on the grounds of sex. This new legal basis will make it possible to take action in areas other than employment and social security, which at present constitute the relatively limited field of application of Community law on equality.

In 2002, the fight against trafficking in women and violence and the enhancement of the importance given to gender equality in the EU’s external policies and the actions of the Structural Funds will continue to be policy priorities. Lastly, in line with the current evaluation of the participation of women in the decision-making process and with an eye to the European Parliament elections in 2004, the Commission plans to focus its activities in 2003 on promoting the gender balance in decision-making.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Report from the Commission, of 5 March 2003, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2002 [COM(2003) 98 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

 

Report on equal opportunities 2002

Report on equal opportunities 2002

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Report on equal opportunities 2002

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Report on equal opportunities 2002

To present an overview of the main developments and achievements in the field of equal opportunities in 2002, both at European and at national level, and to describe the outlook for 2003.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission, of 5 March 2003, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union in 2002 [COM(2003) 98 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

ENLARGEMENT

2002 was an historic year in the European Union (EU) enlargement process as it saw the conclusion of accession negotiations with 10 candidate countries. The period leading up to their entry into the EU on 1 May 2004 will therefore be an opportunity to step up monitoring and support for these countries in the final stages of their preparation for full membership. In this context the action programme for equal opportunities was opened up to candidate countries in 2002.

Legal Transposition

In the field of equal opportunities nine European Directives had to be transposed. The majority of accession countries, in particular Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, are fairly well advanced in the process of alignment with this acquis. Cooperation will continue with Romania and Bulgaria who have made significant progress towards alignment with Community law.

Implementing structures

Transposing the law is not enough in itself. It is equally important to establish adequate institutional and administrative structures, in particular equality organisations and mediators as well as independent advisory bodies. Several countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland have already set up structures of this nature. In both Cyprus and Malta the administrative capacities needed to transpose the Community acquis are in place but need to be further strengthened.

The socio-economic dimension

There is a marked contrast between the current Member States and the accession countries in socio-economic terms. For many years there was a strong presence of women on the labour market in the accession countries, but their numbers fell significantly during the early years of the transition. Levels of unemployment are high among both women and men, particularly in Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and the Slovak Republic. Moreover, men’s participation in the labour market is lower than the EU average and therefore the gender gap in terms of both employment and unemployment is narrower than in the EU. However, as in the Member States, labour markets in the accession countries are strongly gender segregated and the salary gap is wider still. There is a general recognition of the need for a gender mainstreaming policy and strategy but the necessary tools are lacking. Furthermore, beyond the basic provisions for maternity and parental leave, there have been very few developments in terms of family-friendly working-time arrangements.

Cooperation in the field of social inclusion mainly consists of preparing Joint Inclusion Memoranda, the aim of which is to prepare the accession countries for full participation in the European Social Inclusion Process from the date of accession. The memoranda will be finalised by the end of 2003 and, for accession countries, represent a major step towards establishing their first National Action Plans in 2005 to combat poverty and social exclusion.

As regards the role of women in decision-making, it is important that women in accession countries are able to reap the benefits of existing Community law on male-female equality. When European elections are held in June 2004 women will have to be in a position to take on their role, equal to that of men, in decision-making and political life. In 2003 the Commission will concentrate its activities on the promotion of gender balance in decision-making which will provide a basis for action and exchange on this theme between accession countries and Member States.

FRAMEWORK STRATEGY FOR GENDER EQUALITY

The strategy for gender mainstreaming has proved an efficient tool in the promotion of equality between men and women. Gender mainstreaming combined with specific actions, legislation and financing programmes in particular, constitutes the dual approach covered by the framework strategy for gender equality.

The European Employment Strategy

In 2002 the Commission carried out an evaluation of the European Employment Strategy which revealed that more emphasis is being put on the gender equality issue, even in the Member States that were “lagging behind”, and the gap between the sexes has narrowed in terms of employment and unemployment rates. Nevertheless these inequalities are still too marked and a lot remains to be done in order to overcome them. Furthermore, substantial progress still has to be made in the development of child-care facilities.

The Structural Funds

In this area gender equality policy is also based on the dual approach of specific measures along with gender mainstreaming across all Structural Fund operations. This dual approach is most advanced in the European Social Fund (ESF), the EU’s main financial support tool for the European Employment Strategy. Most of the initiatives aimed at reducing gender inequalities focus on employment and are funded by the ESF. Gender mainstreaming has proved more difficult in other Structural Fund areas such as transport, the environment and rural development.

As regards improving the promotion of gender equality through the Structural Funds, only a few programmes using the funds in the Member States have adopted a global gender mainstreaming strategy. Moreover, the majority of these programmes lack clear targets and monitoring in terms of gender equality.

The Social Inclusion Process

The European Social Inclusion Process has been developed to support Member States in their fight against poverty and social exclusion. The Member States draw up National Action Plans on the basis of the common objectives set out by the Council of Ministers. They have also been asked to include gender mainstreaming in all their strategies for combating poverty and social exclusion.

The gender dimension did not feature strongly in the first National Action Plans submitted in 2001, but in July 2002 the Ministers agreed to enhance this aspect of the plans which added great impetus to successful gender mainstreaming. In the next round, due in July 2003, the National Action Plans are expected to put more emphasis on specific actions on gender and demonstrate gender mainstreaming throughout.

The gender dimension in the national strategies on pension

Although women are in the majority amongst old people, most pension schemes have traditionally been designed for men who support a family and work full time without taking a career break. The first national reports, submitted in September 2002, show that many pension systems still reflect these basic principles. In many countries, in fact, women’s pensions remain, on average, significantly lower than men’s. However, there is some evidence that the Member States are gradually adapting their systems in line with developments in the social and economic role of women and men, although the effects of such changes are not likely to be felt for some time.

Other policies

In the field of research and development the Commission intends to create a European Platform for women scientists aimed at promoting female scientists and involving them more actively in shaping the science policy debate at national and European level. Furthermore, in December 2002 the Commission published its first calls for proposals under the 6th Community Research Framework Programme among which was a call for proposals concerning women and scientific activities.

In May 2002, in response to the Commission’s Communication entitled “Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality”, the Council adopted a Resolution which recognises equal opportunities as one of the fundamental principles behind the concept of lifelong learning. It also views ongoing training for women, particularly within companies, as an essential goal.

The Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) Environment included gender mainstreaming in its Management Plan. Significant progress has been made in the field of waste, water, marine and soil management in which gender impact studies have been undertaken.

POLICIES AND SPECIFIC ACTIONS FOR GENDER EQUALITY

Legislation

Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards employment, professional training and promotion and working conditions was amended in September 2002. One of the key amendments dealt with sexual harassment at work. For the first time at European level a binding law now defines sexual harassment and prohibits it as a form of discrimination based on sex. Although the Member States have until 2005 to conform to the Directive’s new provisions, the majority of them have already adopted measures aimed at combating sexual harassment, particularly Belgium, France, Finland and Ireland.

Several national courts have been called on to pass judgement on the issue of equal pay. In the Netherlands, for example, a court has ruled in favour of a care worker who brought a claim over equal pay.

In 2002 several Member States took initiatives to facilitate the reconciliation of work with family life. Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, Catalonia and Germany have actually adopted measures along these lines.

The action programme

Equality of pay between women and men was the main theme in 2001, the first year of the programme, because the salary gap between men and women is one of the most striking inequalities that women face in their professional lives. The majority of the projects chosen in the framework of the Action Programme dealt with issues of equal pay. The results are due in 2003 but, since the projects run for 15 months, several conferences on the subject were held in 2002 and provided an opportunity to underline the persistence of the equal pay issue.

The reconciliation of work and family life was the priority in 2002. This is an essential part of the gender dimension in the European employment strategy and in the social inclusion process. It aims to ensure favourable conditions for women and men for entering, returning to and remaining on the job market. This includes access to quality, affordable childcare services, an equal division of childcare and domestic responsibilities, encouraging fathers to take parental leave and the possibility of flexible working arrangements both for men and women. In response to the calls for proposals under the Gender Equality Programme, 18 projects on this theme were selected in 2002 under the action programme.

In 2003 the emphasis will be on women in decision-making. Attaining political parity remains a concern both at Member State and European level. Although several Member States have introduced legislation in this field, the results of recent national elections failed to live up to expectations. In France, for example, the equality law did not have the desired effect of balancing representation either in the local or parliamentary elections. Several Member States such as Belgium, Ireland, Spain and the UK are now tackling the issue of gender-balanced political representation.

In 2004-2005 priority will be given to the theme of male and female stereotypes.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Trafficking in human beings

The fight against trafficking in human beings is one of the EU’s political priorities. In 1996 the EU launched the STOP programme in support of actions aimed at combating the trafficking of human beings and the sexual exploitation of children. In September 2002, the European conference “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings – Global challenge for the 21st century” took place in Brussels. The conference was a Commission initiative in the framework of the STOP II programme and was organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the European Parliament and the Commission. It resulted most significantly in the Brussels Declaration aimed at developing European and international cooperation and encouraging the adoption of concrete measures, norms, good practices and mechanisms to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings. With this aim in mind, the Brussels Declaration makes recommendations on the prevention of trafficking, assisting and protecting victims and police and judicial cooperation.

Domestic violence

Community action to prevent violence against children, young people and women and to protect victims and groups at risk is brought together under the DAPHNE programme. Early in 2003 the Commission issued a proposal on the second phase of Community action, DAPHNE II (2004-2008). This proposal is similar in structure to that of the initial DAPHNE programme (2000-2003) and draws on the experience gained through the first programme.

Other initiatives

Serious attention has also been paid to a number of worrying situations, including the condition of women in Afghanistan, the stoning of women and the integration of Muslim women into European society.

OUTLOOK FOR 2003

The Commission’s work programme for 2003 will include the following horizontal priorities for all its services:

  • gender impact assessment will be incorporated into the overall impact assessment of new proposals and gender mainstreaming will continue in new areas;
  • each service will increase its efforts to obtain gender-specific data, to systematically break down all related statistics by gender and to establish gender equality indicators;
  • each DG and service will incorporate gender mainstreaming modules into their training plans for all staff, particularly those at management level.

The Commission will launch an open consultation on possible guidelines for the recasting of existing Directives in the field of equal treatment. Furthermore, in 2003 the Commission intends to present a report on the implementation of the Directive on parental leave, looking in particular at the reasons why fathers fail to exercise this right. Lastly, the Greek and Italian presidencies will prepare an analysis, including indicators, of women in decision-making.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

 

The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between women and men in the access to and supply of goods and services.

Summary

Scope

The prohibition of discrimination between women and men applies to access to and supply of goods and services, in both the public and private sectors. The Directive applies to goods and services which are available to the public, irrespective of the persons concerned (i.e. irrespective of the individual situation of the potential consumer), and which are offered outside the area of private and family life. The term “services” refers to services provided against payment.

The Directive does not apply to the content of media and advertising or to education.

Differences in the treatment of men and women may be accepted only if they are justified by a legitimate aim, such as the protection of victims of sex-related violence (in cases such as the establishment of single-sex shelters) or the freedom of association (in cases of membership of single-sex private clubs). Any limitation should nevertheless be appropriate and necessary.

The principle of prohibition of discrimination in the area of goods and services

The Directive establishes the prohibition of discrimination based on sex in the access to and supply of goods and services. Therefore, all direct discrimination * between women and men is prohibited, including unfavourable treatment for reasons of pregnancy and maternity, and all indirect discrimination * is also prohibited. Harassment *, sexual harassment * and incitement to discrimination are considered as discrimination based on sex and for this reason are also prohibited. The Directive includes the definitions of these concepts, referring to the definitions used for the same terms in previous Directives.

The principle of equal treatment does not exclude the adoption of positive action to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to sex in the area of goods and services.

The Directive establishes minimum requirements: while the Member States can introduce or maintain provisions which are more favourable than those laid down in the Directive, they cannot reduce the level of protection already granted in the fields covered by the Directive.

Application in the field of insurance

The Directive prohibits, in principle, the use of sex as a criterion in the calculation of premiums and benefits for the purposes of insurance and related financial services, in all new contracts concluded after 21 December 2007. The Commission deems insurance companies’ practice of separating women and men into different pools for the calculation of premiums to be discriminatory, as they do not face the same risks, bearing in mind their life expectancy in particular.

Member States may however decide to permit such practices where sex is a determining factor in the assessment of risk based on relevant and accurate actuarial and statistical data available to the public. These Member States shall review the justification for these derogations five years after transposal of the Directive, taking into account the most recent actuarial and statistical data.

In any event, all Member States must ensure that costs related to pregnancy and maternity (for example sickness insurance) are attributed equally to men and women. Member States must comply with this provision no later than 21 December 2009.

Bodies for the promotion of equal treatment

The Directive lays down that each Member State is to charge one or more bodies with the promotion of equal treatment for women and men on a national level, in the fields covered by the Directive. These bodies will be empowered to analyse the problems encountered, put forward recommendations and provide concrete assistance to victims.

Standard provisions

The Directive provides victims with the possibility of resorting to legal and/or administrative proceedings and obtaining appropriate reparation or compensation. The penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Once the plaintiff has established facts from which it may be presumed that discrimination has taken place, the burden of proof rests with the respondent. Protection of victims and witnesses of discrimination based on sex, against risks of reprisals is also stipulated. Moreover, the proposal encourages dialogue with non-governmental organisations contributing to the fight against discrimination based on sex.

Compliance, penalties, dissemination of information and reports

Member States shall ensure that any laws, regulations and administrative provisions contrary to the principle of equal treatment are abolished, and that any contractual provisions, internal rules of undertakings, and rules governing associations which are contrary to the principle of equal treatment are declared null and void or are amended.

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive, ensure that the information contained in the Directive is published widely, and shall communicate all available information concerning the application of this Directive to the Commission, by 21 December 2009 and every five years thereafter.

The Commission shall draw up a report including a review of the current practices of Member States with regard to the use of sex as a factor in the calculation of premiums and benefits. It shall submit this report no later than 21 December 2010.

Background

This Directive gives concrete form to the Commission’s intention to present a proposal to prohibit discrimination based on sex outside the labour market, as expressed in the framework strategy for gender equality (2001-2005) and in the social policy agenda published in June 2000. In December 2000, the Nice European Council had encouraged the Commission to do so by calling for the adoption of a proposal for a directive to promote equal treatment for men and women in fields other than work and employment.

This Directive has its legal basis in Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which provides that the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, can take the necessary measures to combat all discrimination based on sex.

Key terms used in the act
  • Direct discrimination: a situation where one person is treated less favourably, on grounds of sex, than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
  • Indirect discrimination: a situation where a provision, a criterion or an apparently neutral practice could put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are legitimate and necessary.
  • Harassment: a situation where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person is exhibited with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile or degrading environment.
  • Sexual harassment: a situation where unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct with sexual connotations is exhibited with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2004/113/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2003/0265] 21.12.2004 21.12.2007 OJ L 373 of 21.12.2004

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Towards a Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005) [COM(2000) 0335 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Social policy agenda [COM(2000) 0379 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process

Balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 2 December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process.

Summary

The Council recommends that the Member States adopt a comprehensive, integrated strategy designed to promote the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process, and to develop or introduce to this end the appropriate legislative, regulatory or incentive measures.

The Council recommends that the Member States:

  • alert all those involved in education and training to the importance of an image of women’s role in society which is free of prejudice and discriminatory stereotypes, a more balanced sharing of professional, domestic and social responsibilities between women and men and more balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process;
  • encourage girls and women to take part and express themselves in education and training activities as actively and fully as boys and men;
  • encourage and support efforts of associations and organisations to promote women’s access to the decision-making process;
  • encourage and support the efforts of the social partners to promote balanced participation of women and men in their activities;
  • devise, launch and promote public campaigns to alert public opinion to the usefulness and advantages for society as a whole of balanced participation by women and men in decision-making.

The Council recommends that the Member States:

  • promote or improve the collection and publication of statistics to provide a picture of how women and men are represented at all levels of the decision-making process;
  • support, develop and encourage quantitative and qualitative studies on the legal, social or cultural obstacles impeding access to the decision-making process for persons of either sex;
  • support and encourage initiatives creating examples of good practice in the various areas of the decision-making process.

The Council recommends that the Member States:

  • promote more balanced participation by women and men at all levels in government;
  • provide for, implement or develop a coherent set of measures encouraging equal opportunities in the public sector;
  • encourage the private sector to increase the presence of women at all levels of decision-making, notably by the adoption of equality plans and positive action programmes.

The Council calls on the Commission:

  • to encourage and organise, within the framework of the medium-term Community action programme on equal opportunities for men and women (1996-2000), systematic pooling of experience and assessment of the policies pursued in order to achieve a better balance between women and men in the decision-making process;
  • to step up its efforts to provide information, alert public opinion, encourage research and promote schemes aimed at achieving balanced participation by women and men in the decision-making process;
  • within three years from adoption of this Recommendation, to submit a report to the Council on its implementation, on the basis of information provided by the Member States.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Recommendation of 02.12.1996 Official Journal L 319 of 10.12.1996

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council on the implementation of Council recommendation 96/694/EC of 2nd December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process [COM(2000) 120 – Not published in the Official Journal]

This Commission report fulfils the obligation set by Recommendation 96/694/EC to submit a report on its implementation three years after its adoption. Despite various efforts and results in the different Member States and the European institutions, there has been no significant change to the situation of women being under-represented in decision-making posts. While the European institutions have given special attention to recruitment and promotion policies, the gender balance has not been met either in the committees or in bodies at all levels in the Member States.

The balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process is an essential requirement of democracy and a positive step for society, as decisions then take into account the needs and interests of the population as a whole.

The Commission recommends the adoption of a long-term global strategy and highlights the need to raise awareness in the private sector, a sector which requires particular attention and perhaps a different approach. Data collection also needs to be improved in order to ensure regular monitoring. Finally, a new measure should be agreed upon.

 

Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS

Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 1672/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 establishing a Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity — PROGRESS [Official Journal L 315 of 15.11.2006] [See amending act(s)].

Summary

Up to now, Community activities in the fields of employment, social inclusion and protection, promoting gender equality and the principle of non-discrimination have been supported by separate action programmes.

With a view to improving coherence and efficiency, the European Commission has proposed to group these subjects together in a single framework programme known as PROGRESS.

GENERAL OBJECTIVES

The programme has six objectives:

  • to improve knowledge and understanding of the social situation of the Member States through analysis, evaluation and close monitoring of policies;
  • to support the development of statistical tools and methods and common indicators;
  • to support and monitor the implementation of legislation and policy objectives;
  • to promote networking, mutual learning, and the identification and dissemination of good practice at EU level;
  • to make stakeholders and the general public aware of European Union (EU) policies in the fields of employment, social protection and inclusion, working conditions, diversity and non-discrimination, and equality between men and women;
  • to boost the capacity of the key EU networks to promote and support EU policies.

STRUCTURE: FIELDS OF ACTIVITY AND TYPES OF ACTION

The programme is divided into the following five sections:

  • employment;
  • social protection and inclusion;
  • working conditions;
  • diversity and combating discrimination;
  • equality between women and men.

The programme will finance the following types of action:

  • analyses;
  • mutual learning, awareness-raising and dissemination activities;
  • support for the main players; i.e. contributing to the operating costs of the main networks in the Union, the formation of working groups, funding training seminars, creating networks of specialist bodies and observatories at EU level, staff exchanges between national administrations and cooperation with international institutions.

The programme has a list of operational objectives for each of the sections.

Employment

The objective of this section is to support implementation of the European Employment Strategy by:

  • improving understanding of the employment situation, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators;
  • monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the European Employment Guidelines and Recommendations and analysing the interaction between the EES and other policy areas;
  • organising exchanges on policies and processes and promoting mutual learning in the context of the EES;
  • reinforcing awareness-raising, disseminating information and promoting debate, in particular among regional and local players and the social partners.

Social protection and inclusion

This section will support the implementation of the Open Method of Coordination in the field of social protection and inclusion by:

  • improving understanding of poverty issues and social protection and inclusion policies, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators;
  • monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Open Method of Coordination in the field of social protection and inclusion and analysing the interaction between this method and other policy areas;
  • organising exchanges on policies and processes and promoting mutual learning in the context of the social protection and inclusion strategy;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting debate, in particular among NGOs and regional and local players;
  • developing the ability of the main EU networks (e.g. of national experts or NGOs) to pursue the EU’s policy objectives.

Working conditions

This section will support the improvement of the working environment and conditions, including health and safety at work, by:

  • improving the understanding of the situation in relation to working conditions, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators, as well as assessing the impact of existing legislation, policies and practices;
  • supporting the implementation of EU labour law through reinforced monitoring, training of practitioners, development of guides and networking amongst specialised bodies;
  • initiating preventive actions and fostering the prevention culture in the field of health and safety at work;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting the debate about the main challenges and policy issues relating to working conditions.

Diversity and combating discrimination

This section will support the effective implementation of the principle of non-discrimination and promote its mainstreaming in EU policies by:

  • improving understanding of the discrimination situation, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators, as well as assessing the impact of existing legislation, policies and practices;
  • supporting the implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation through reinforced monitoring, training of practitioners and networking amongst specialised bodies dealing with combating discrimination;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting the debate about the main challenges and policy issues in relation to discrimination and the mainstreaming of anti-discrimination in EU policies;
  • developing the ability of the main EU networks (e.g. of national experts or NGOs) to pursue the Union’s policy objectives.

Gender equality

This section will support the effective implementation of the principle of gender equality and promote gender mainstreaming in EU policies by:

  • improving the understanding of the situation in relation to gender equality issues and gender mainstreaming, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators, as well as assessing the impact of existing legislation, policies and practices;
  • supporting the implementation of EU gender equality legislation through reinforced monitoring, training of practitioners and networking amongst specialised equality bodies;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting debate about the main challenges and policy issues in relation to gender equality and gender mainstreaming;
  • developing the ability of the main EU networks (e.g. of national experts or NGOs) to pursue the Union’s policy objectives.

ACCESS TO THE PROGRAMME AND PARTICIPATION BY THIRD COUNTRIES

Access to this programme is open to all public and/or private bodies, players and institutions, in particular:

  • Member States;
  • public employment services;
  • local and regional authorities;
  • specialised bodies provided for under EU legislation;
  • the social partners;
  • non-governmental organisations organised at EU level;
  • universities and research institutes;
  • experts in evaluation;
  • the national statistical institutes;
  • the media.

The programme is also open to the EFTA/EEA countries, associated candidate countries and countries of the western Balkans participating in the stabilisation and association process.

TYPES OF ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE

Actions may be funded by:

  • a service contract following a call for tenders;
  • a partial subsidy following a call for proposals. In this case, the EU co-financing may not, as a general rule, exceed 80 % of the total expenditure incurred by the recipient.

FINANCING

The budget proposed is EUR 683 250 000 million for the period 2007-2013. The breakdown of funding between the different sections will comply with the following lower limits:

  • Employment 23 %
  • Social protection and inclusion 30 %
  • Working conditions 10 %
  • Diversity and combating discrimination 23 %
  • Gender equality 12 %.

The remaining 2 % will be used to cover programme management expenses.

A budget of EUR 60 million has been allocated to the new microfinance facility Progress for employment and social inclusion for the period 2007-2013.

SIMPLIFICATION

The proposed approach will contribute to the key objective of simplifying instruments, in both legal and management terms, and streamlining the budget structure.

In the implementation of the programme, the Commission will be assisted by a single Programme Committee, instead of four as previously.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

The Commission will draw up annual activity reports and send them to the Programme Committee. The programme will also be subject to a mid-term evaluation. An ex-post evaluation covering the whole programme will be carried out, one year after it ends, by the Commission with the assistance of external experts, in order to measure the impact of the programme objectives and its EU added value.

BACKGROUND

In its 2004 communication on the new financial framework for 2007-2013, the Commission identified the implementation of the social policy agenda as an important tool contributing to the goal of competitiveness for growth and employment.

In order to achieve the Lisbon objectives, the social policy agenda is based on a combination of instruments, in particular legislation, the Open Method of Coordination, European social dialogue, and the European Social Fund and other financial instruments managed directly by the Commission.

PROGRESS responds to the Commission’s desire to simplify and rationalise the financial instruments in the area of employment and social policy.

References

Act Entry into force and expiry date Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 1672/2006/EC

1.1.2007 – 31.12.2013

OJ L315 of 15.11.2006

Amending Act(s) Entry into force date Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 284/2010/EU

8.4.2010

OJ L 87 of 7.4.2010

Related Acts


Decision 283/2010/UE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2010 establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion [Official Journal L 87 of 7.4.2010].
The new Progress microfinance facility shall finance:

  • the creation of businesses or self-employment by persons excluded from the labour market and persons who do not have access to the conventional credit market;
  • micro-enterprises who employ persons who are socially excluded.

This instrument is aimed at public and private bodies who offer microfinance to individuals or micro-enterprises.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 3 June 2009 – “A Shared Commitment for Employment” [COM(2009) 257 final – Not published in the Official Journal].