[Brussels, 16 March 2012] European Parliament backs many key recommendations of the EWL in two resolutions on women’s rights and gender equality adopted on 13 March. The EWL welcomes the strong commitment of the MEPs for real equality between women and men. Member States and European Commission must realise that the time for good will and declarations is over: It is time for action!
Equality between women and men in the European Union - 2011
Parliament’s annual report on the state of gender equality in the EU for 2011, drafted by Sophie in’t Veldt (ALDE, NL), makes recommendations for action in six fields: women’s economic independence, equal pay, equality in decision-making, violence against women, gender equality beyond the Union and governance.
The MEPs reiterate the EWL’s key demands regarding combating violence against women: the need for the Commission to present an EU-wide strategy to end violence against women and to establish 2015 as the EU Year to End Violence against Women.
The report also takes strong stance on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and it expresses concern about recent funding cuts to family planning and sexual education and for restrictions to sade and legal abortion and other sexual and reproductive health services in some Member States.
In matter of equal pay, women’s economic independence, the MEPs back EWL’s long-standing requirement for a European equal pay target to reduce the pay gap by 10% in each Member State.
MEPs call on the Council to move forward on the Maternity Leave Directive proposal to ensure paid leave across the EU.
The report also requires Commissioner Viviane Reding to propose by the end of 2012 binding legislation, inlcuding quotas, to increase the number of women on company boards (see another article on the topic).
The EWL congratulates the draftsperson for defending the report against attempts to water it down. Right wing parties submitted at the last moment many amendments to undermine references to sexual and reproductive health and rights, to maternity leave and to a broad definition of families that must include same sex couples.
The resolution was passed with 361 votes in favour, 268 against and 70 abstentions. Read the adopted resolution here.
Women in political decision-making – quality and equality
The resolution on women in political decision-making drafted by Sirpa Pietikainen (EPP, FI) calls on the EU institutions and the member states to design and implement multifaceted strategies for achieving parity in elected and nominated position.
The report notes that electoral quotas have been successfully introduced in France, Spain, Belgium, Slovenian, Portugal and Poland, and calls on member states to consider introducing similar legislative measures.
The EWL is in particular happy to see that the MEPs have taken on boards its proposition for ensuring parity amongst European Commissioners: The MEPs call on the Member States to propose a woman and a man as their candidates for the office of European Commissioner and on the President of the Commission to achieve parity in forming the Commission.
While 35% of MEPs are now women, average female representation across the EU’s national parliaments remains unchanged at 24%. Only 23 % of ministers are women.
The resolution was passed with 508 votes in favour, 124 against and 49 abstentions. Read the report here.