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“Women’s potential as agents of change needs to be recognised”, says Council of the EU

[Brussels, 12 July 2012] Ministers of Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) on 25 June adopted conclusions on the issue of “Gender equality and the environment: enhanced decision-making, qualifications and competitiveness in the field of climate change mitigation policy in the EU”.

Considering that women play a “vital role” in sustainable development and that their “potential as agents of change” needs to be recognised, the Council agreed on several measures aimed to enhance the representation and participation of women in all areas related to climate change: decision-making, but also scientific research and education.

In order to achieve this, the Council calls upon Member States to integrate the principle of gender mainstreaming into “all relevant legislation, policy measures and instruments related to climate change mitigation”. Member States are urged to actively work on the elimination of all the barriers that currently prevent women from taking part into climate change policies and research. Several measures are put forward such as:

  • supporting women in science and technology
  • eliminating gender stereotypes and promoting gender equality at all levels of education and training, as well as in working life
  • reinforcing the integration of the gender dimension in the ERA - European Research Area
  • creating more attractive and flexible working conditions e to help women “reconcile work, family and private life”

As a first step towards the inclusion of women in the climate change issue, the Council suggests a set of indicators to monitor women’s under-representation in various research sectors and political institutions at national, EU and international levels. Four indicators were designed to track women’s and men’s participation in decision-making and research.

The EWL welcomes these initiatives aimed at guaranteeing equal opportunities between women and men in top scientific and political careers while at the same time casting a new “gender mainstreaming” light on the issue. Yet the challenges ahead of the Council are huge: indeed, these conclusions were drafted just a few days after the launch of Commission campaign “Science, it’s a girl thing”, which promoted all the gender stereotypes related to science that EPSCO is planning on eliminating (for more information, see EWL article here).

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