Shadow Directive on achieving equality of women and men outside the field of occupation and employment (2002)



The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the intention of the European Commission to bring forward a new directive on equality of women and men as a very positive step towards the achievement of full equality of women and men in Europe and the realisation of women’s human rights. In this context, this “Shadow directive” proposed by EWL is the result of a comprehensive consultation process of women’s organisations across the EU (see page 19) and EWL hopes that the Commission and Member States will take this position into consideration and ensure that the text is as comprehensive and effective as possible.

EWL considers gender equality as a prerequisite for democracy and an issue linked to the general good and well being of societies, which requires not only the elimination of discrimination in law, but also the implementation of active integrated policies in order to achieve equality in reality (see article 1).

EWL also wants to stress that humanity is made up of women and men, that gender-based discrimination is universal and that unequal gender relations also influence all other forms of discrimination. All anti-discrimination measures and policies must therefore take into account the multiple discrimination many women are facing.

Gender inequalities in all areas must be seen in the context of a continuum; they are rooted in people’s mind but also in social structures. This means that achieving equality of women and men in the reality cannot be achieved through isolated measures, but only through an integrated and comprehensive approach. For example women as a group will never have the same opportunities on the labour market or in society, as long as 1 out of 5 women experiences domestic violence or if equality in the private sphere is not achieved, with women still doing 80% of all care, community and household work.

EWL highlights the fact that articles 2, 3 and 13 of the Treaty read in combination, define equality of women and men as an objective of the Community and the Member States, which obliges Member States to achieve equality in all fields covered by the Treaty and provide a strong legal basis for very broad action at EU level.

EWL therefore insists that the new directive must cover all areas, in particular but not only: the parity participation of men and women in decision-making; the access to and supply of goods and services; taxation; the right to reconcile family and working life; social protection, social security, social benefits and non-occupational healthcare and the fight against social exclusion; education, training and research; family and society-based violence against women; health; the images of women and men portrayed in advertising and the media, the surname (see articles 3 to 13).

Mainstreaming of equality of women and men is one of the tools to be used for achieving equality in combination with specific measures, policies and institutional mechanisms and a duty on public authorities to promote it actively. Tools such as gender budgeting, gender analysis, and gender-disaggregated statistics are indispensable for defining the issues and tackling them accordingly (see articles 14 to 20).

Finally, EWL emphasises that important definitions must be integrated in the directive, for example the concept of discrimination, positive measures, parity democracy, gender mainstreaming, violence against women (see article 2).

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