[Brussels, 28 March 2014] 8 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 first demand of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union, is a comprehensive framework to achieve gender equality.
The European Union (EU) has led the way on gender equality on a series of issues, through legislative acts and support to national developments. The EU legal framework for gender equality comprises directives calling for equal treatment on the basis of sex in the field of employment, and good and services. This includes equal pay for equal work, employment rights, an end to sexual harassment at work and to discrimination in goods and services. We now have tools for the protection of women victims of violence against women (the victims’ rights directive and the European protection order) and more participation of women in decision-making is being discussed (proposed directive on women on boards). However, we see that many Member States have not yet transposed or entirely implemented the EU obligations; we also would like to see more monitoring of EU legislation to make sure that gaps and challenges are taken into account and solved. This is why the EWL calls for the strengthening and the implementation of the EU legal framework on gender equality.
The EWL calls on the European Commission to elaborate a new EU Strategy for equality between women and men for 2015-2020, to build on the previous Strategy. Such strategy is key to guarantee that the European Union sees the goal of equality between women and men as a core objective of its work. Such Strategy should address all issues related to women’s and girls’ rights, including women’s employment and the care economy, women in decision-making, ending all forms of violence against women, supporting the rights of all women and ending multiple discrimination, acting in a consistent way on the international scene towards gender equality, and implementing gender mainstreaming in all EU policies.
The European Parliament (EP) plays a key role in supporting women’s rights and gender equality in the EP. However, the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) of the EP is regularly under attacks, some political groups lobbying for its end or for the dilution of women’s rights into a broader framework of equality for all. The EWL calls for a strengthening of the FEMM Committee, as a key Committee to implement the EU core principle of gender equality and non-discrimination.
Gender mainstreaming has been recognized as a key objective of the EU, and needs to be concretely implemented in all EU institutions. Last term, the European Commissioners committed to gender equality through the Women’s Charter, and the EWL hopes to see the same initiative taken on board by the new Commissioners. Gender mainstreaming also needs to be implemented in the European Parliament, and the EWL calls on all MEPs and all Committees to abide by their obligation to implement gender mainstreaming in their work, in order to realise the objectives of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Finally, a genuine political will to realise equality between women and men must materialize with the appointment of an EU Coordinator on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. The EWL truly believes that such post is crucial for the credibility of the EU and for a coordinated comprehensive action. The EU Coordinator for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality would report directly to the European Commission’s President, and would be in charge of guaranteeing the implementation of the EU Strategy on equality between women and men, and of gender mainstreaming in all EU policies. The Coordinator would be the face of the EU political will to realize gender equality, and would play a leading role as well as a coordination role amongst the EU institutions and agencies. The EWL believes that the appointment of such Coordinator would be the political sign that the EU is ready to commit to gender equality, beyond words, but through action.
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!