[Brussels, 4 April 2014] 7 weeks before the European elections, the European Women’s Lobby explains, week after week, the demands of its Manifesto "Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!". The second demand of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union, is sustainable funding for gender equality.
Budgets mirror political priorities. Therefore, sustainable funding mechanisms and resources to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality reflect the true extent of political commitments to ensuring long term sustainable development in Europe and in the world. The EWL calls for sustainable funding for gender equality by ensuring that budgets are gender sensitive, environmentally sustainable and promotes social cohesion.
The EWL will be closely monitoring the new European Parliament (EP) as they decide on future priorities and corresponding spending allocations in the next mandate. The European Parliament plays a key role in supporting women’s rights in the EU and in ensuring that sustainable funding mechanisms are shaped on the values and principles expressed in the Treaty of Lisbon: equality between women and men, democracy, fundamental rights, anti-discrimination, and social justice.
However, in times of austerity, there is a real danger that equality between women and men is being side-lined in decisions about public spending. The EWL has witnessed an erosion of funding to women’s organisations and the institutional framework that supports gender equality with devastating effects both in the short and especially in the long term if prompt and decisive action is not taken now. The emergence of rising inequalities, including gender inequalities, geographical imbalances, rising unemployment, reduced consumption, jeopardised social cohesion and rising political instability are sending clear messages that a new direction for the future is urgent.
The EWL and its member organisations are extremely concerned about the impact of current climate of austerity on women’s lives and on gender equality in Europe. The EU funding for programmes, policies and actions to improve gender equality and women’s rights is particularly vital in times when the European governments are tackling the crisis through unprecedented cuts in public spending, which have fallen heavily on public services and social benefits. In the long term, such policies will result in silencing women’s voices at a time when they are most needed to be heard. The EWL is calling on all MEPs, the European Commission and national governments to guarantee adequate funding for programmes, policies and actions on women’s rights and gender equality. We are also calling for gender budgeting to be incorporated at all levels, which consists in applying assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process (design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality.
Sustainable funding for gender equality is necessary to meet the challenges of ensuring that women and men are drivers of change towards a more sustainable holistic socially cohesive and environmentally sound society. This means funding mechanisms that seek to achieve quality employment, increase women’s employment rate, improve reconciliation policies for both women and men, strengthen national care infrastructures, tackle vertical and horizontal gender segregation in education and in the labour market, combat the gender pay and pension gaps and the increasing feminisation of poverty, combat all forms of violence against women, promote parity democracy, ensure women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health, empower women’s rights organisations, strength the capacity for gender mainstreaming including in development aid and the post Millennium agenda. The EWL urges Member States to allocate budgets for women’s rights and gender equality at all levels.
Investing in gender equality on a global scale is a necessary pre-condition to make her future a better world for us all.
Women and girls are half of Europe’s population, and are entitled to the same rights as men and boys. Achieving substantive equality between women and men, promoting women’s rights and empowering women should be a priority of the European Union and its Member States. Gender equality is an essential part of democracy, social justice, human rights and dignity. Our Manifesto "Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!" develops our vision of a Europe committed to the realization of equality between women and men. We urge all candidates to the European elections to endorse it!
Manifesto ’Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!