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EWL: Trio EU Presidency needs to strengthen its commitment to gender equality

[Brussels, 25 October 2011] Poland, Denmark, and Cyprus, the Member States leading the EU from July 2011 to December 2012, have released a joint declaration on gender equality. The EWL calls on the Trio Presidency to back its commitment with concrete proposals and strong leadership and reminds that gender equality is not only an economic question.

The Trio Presidency Declaration, presented at the informal meeting of the Ministers for Gender Equality and Family Affairs on 21 October in Cracow, emphasise the need to make progress in tackling gender stereotypes in education, increasing gender equality in decision-making, promoting work-life balance, and including a gender perspective when addressing the demographic challenges.

Important themes but little concrete action

The EWL supports the main ideas of the Trio Presidency Declaration but calls for concrete action.

In particular, the EWL welcomes the Trio Presidency’s commitment to ensure gender equality at all levels of decision-making. However, the declaration does not outline any further action this field, and decision-making is not among the priorities of the forthcoming Danish and Cypriot EU Presidencies. This is regrettable, because although equality in decision-making is one of the five priorities of the current EU Strategy for Equality between Women and Men, there has been little progress. EU needs strong political leadership to improve the situation, in particular in view of the approaching European elections.

EWL welcomes the emphasis on better sharing of care responsibilities between women and men that is part of the Trio Presidency’s commitment to reconciliation of work and family life. Reconciliation has been an important issue for Poland, the current EU Presidency, and also the previous Hungarian Presidency focused on this issue. The EWL calls on the Council to build on the discussions and the expertise gathered in the framework of these two Presidencies and give strong recommendations to the European Commission and the Member States about the way forward.

The EWL has been calling for including a women’s rights and gender equality perspective in EU and national level debates on demography and families and welcomes, therefore, the commitment of the Trio Presidency to ensure that gender equality is part of the debates about demography. The EWL also notes with satisfaction that the Presidencies stress the need for a gender perspective in the Europe 2020 Strategy. The EWL has been calling for introducing a women’s rights and gender perspective into the 2020 Strategy already during the process of drafting and adaptation. However, the adopted Strategy does not mention equality between women and men, and gender equality has not been sufficiently taken into account in the first steps of its implementation.

Economic perspective dominates

The Trio Presidency frames equality between women and men in terms of economic competitiveness and encourages decision-makers and civil society organisations to make their case for gender equality in economic terms in order to incorporate gender equality into political priorities. Although discussing gender equality in terms of economic gains may sometimes be a strategic choice, the EWL is concerned that the increasing tendency to economic argumentation might limit the scope of future gender equality policies.

Forthcoming priorities: gender stereotypes, environment and VAW

The declaration reveals the gender equality priorities the forthcoming EU Presidencies.

Denmark, who will take up the EU Presidency in January 2012, will tackle gender segregation within education through enabling the sharing of best practice between partners and facilitate EU level political discussion on EU measures to increase the number of women in green jobs. Denmark will also focus on gender equality and climate change.

Cyprus will focus on Violence against Women with a focus on victim support. The EWL calls on the Cyprus Presidency to back up the European Parliament’s and the EWL’s call for an EU Strategy on Violence against Women and support the coalition for the European Year to End Violence against Women, initiated by the EWL.

Download the Trio Presidency Declaration in PDF format:

trio presidency declaration cracow october 2011 doc

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