The public consultation on "Equality between women and men in the EU" launched by DG Justice and Consumers received almost 5000 contributions from across Europe. Between 21 April and 22 July 2015 1408 online contributions were made by organisations and 3488 by individuals. The high response to this public consultation, the Special Eurobarometer Survey1, the Forum on the Future of Gender Equality2, an opinion by the Advisory Committee on equal opportunities for women and men3, all combine to give a depth and width to the feedback from stakeholders which becomes an important source of information in order to identify priorities for future policy action in the field of gender equality at EU-level.
An overwhelming percentage of the organisations, 93.9%, consider the priorities laid out in the current Strategy for equality between women and men4 as remaining valid or partially valid, indicating a strong support for continuing future policy work on gender equality. Moreover, when asked to add comments or suggestions the most commonly mentioned priority was a call for a new comprehensive and stand-alone policy framework ("Strategy") to be adopted by the European Commission for the years 2016-2020.
Many of the organisations which participated in the public consultation represent a large number of member organisations, interest groups and associated individuals, or are official institutions within Member States, therefore representing significant numbers of European citizens. With the exception of a group of individuals concentrated in Germany who replied in the same negative manner to all questions, individuals who responded to this consultation replied generally along the same lines as the organisations.
In this vein, the results of the consultation prioritised themes to be tackled by the European Commission as follows:
- Women being paid less than men for the same work or work of equal value,
- The small number of women in positions of power in politics and businesses,
- Facing prejudice because of preconceived ideas about the image and role of women and men,
- Gender-based violence,
- Widespread violation of women's rights worldwide,
- The unequal sharing of caring and household tasks between men and women.
Concerning women in the labour market, the respondents said that it is important to:
- make it easier for women and men to combine paid work, household and care activities,
- make childcare more accessible, more affordable and of better quality,
- ensure equal pay for equal work,
- increase flexible work arrangements.
With regard to encouraging a more equal share of caring activities and housework, priority should be given to improving the quality of part-time work to make it a valid option for both women and men, to changing men's and boys' attitudes towards caring, as well as to introducing compulsory paternity leave. Moreover, it is important to make sure that men are not discriminated against if they take leave to care for children or other dependents. The actions considered to add most value to the growing needs for care for elderly and children and that have an impact on men's and women's work-life balance are:
- Improving working and pay conditions in the care sector,
- Making institutional care more accessible, affordable and improve the quality,
Making formal care for elderly and other dependents more accessible at home. Organisations across Europe seem to support the institutionalization of care as a measure to improve work-life balance for men and women. As for combatting gender-based violence, there is a slight difference of focus between organisations and individuals. For organisations, the focus is an EU accession to the Istanbul Convention. Organisations also recommend training police officers and others who are in contact with women at risk, funding grassroots projects by civil society as well as raising awareness. For individuals, the most important focus by a long way should be the training of police officers and others coming into contact with women at risk. Organisations and individuals have the same top four European Union policy areas with the biggest need of a better integration of a gender perspective, although they placed them in a slightly different order. They are
- Employment and social policies
- Economic and financial policies
- Asylum and migration
To improve gender mainstreaming it is recommended to set targets for each policy area and monitor results, to implement gender budgeting, to introduce mandatory training on gender equality for high-level EU decision-makers, as well as to have more role models amongst EU leaders and managers showing that a better work-life balance is possible At the end of the survey was the opportunity to submit additional comments, which were analysed by theme. The most frequent "theme", by a large margin, is the call for a new comprehensive and stand-alone policy framework ("Strategy") adopted by the European Commission for the years 2016-2020. Other important themes were clustered into the following topics: governance, gender mainstreaming, education, care, labour market, role of media, and the role of men, among many others.
© European Union, 2015
1 Special Eurobarometer 428 (March 2015)
2 Final report of the Forum on the Future of Gender Equality in the EU: Report of the Forum on the Future of Gender Equality in the European Union (as of June 2015)
3 opinion of the Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
This executive summary is part of the European Commission's analysis report of the public consultation "Equality between women and men in the EU", held between April and July 2015. Full report: Analysis of public consultation "Equality between women and men in the EU"