Despite 50 years of European, legislation and policy development on equality between women and men, there is an implementation gap regarding economic, political and social equality between women and men. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), presenting its Statement to the Spring Council 2007, stresses that the equal enjoyment of social and economic rights between women and men is an indicator for progress towards social justice, enjoying human rights, and eliminating poverty in Europe. In 2007, the European Year on Equal Opportunities for All, gaps between women and men persist in most categories of human political, economic, social and cultural activity. These gaps need to be closed if Europe is to deliver its promises in terms of equality and human rights.
The Treaty of Rome established in 1957 the principle of equal pay for equal work. Since then, European legislation has expanded on women’s rights, and the promotion of equality between women and men is now one of the missions of the European Union. In 2006, the EU Spring Council adopted a Gender Pact, and the Commission adopted a new Road Map for Equality between Women and Men 2006-2010. However, a “year of delivery” of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs shows lack of awareness of such commitments, as the majority of the Member States Implementation Reports related to the Lisbon Strategy do not refer to specific measures aimed at promoting women’s employment or reducing gender gaps, and evidence of gender evaluation of policies is very rare in the 2006 National Reform Programme implementation reports. Few Member States report on progress towards the European childcare target set during the Barcelona Council in 2002, and overall progress towards this target remains slow.
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