European Union (EU) Working and Action Programmes
- Strategy for Equality between Women and Men 2010–2015
- Roadmap for Equality between Women and Men
- European Pact for Gender Equality
- Community Framework Strategy on Gender Equality
- Gender Mainstreaming
- Europe 2020 Strategy
- Further Links on Gender Equality Policy
- Social Agenda
- Framework Strategy for Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunities for All
- European Year of Equal Opportunities for All 2007
- Anti-Discrimination Action Programme
- ‘For Diversity. Against Discrimination’ Information Campaign
- Diversity Management/Diversity Charters
Funding: Action and Programmes
Gender Equality Policy
- equal pay,
- promotion of female entrepreneurship and self-employment;
- introduction of a European Equal Pay Day to increase awareness of the fact that women in the EU earn on average around 18% less than men;
- Economic recovery projects still focus mainly on male-dominated employment sectors; the member states and the Commission are called upon to ‘address gender equality in a consistent manner when implementing the EU 2020 Strategy and National Reform Programmes, and to give high priority to addressing barriers to women’s participation in the labour market’.
- A Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006–2010 (PDF)
- Mid-term progress report on the Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006–2010) (PDF)
- Report on assessment of the results of the 2006–2010 Roadmap for equality between women and men, and forward-looking recommendations
In line with the Roadmap, the European Pact for Gender Equality, approved by the European Council in March 2006 following an initiative from Sweden, demonstrates the member states’ determination to implement measures promoting gender equality.
The pact re-engages the issue of gender equality embodied within the Lisbon strategy and objectives. Within the scope of the strategy for growth and development, it primarily aims to promote gender equality and the closing of gender gaps in the labour market, the improvement of childcare provision and care work in general, and ongoing consideration of gender equality perspectives.
- Die Lissabon-Strategie Wachstum (German, PDF)
- The relaunched Lisbon Strategy for Jobs and Growth (PDF)
The framework strategy was the predecessor to the Roadmap for equality. Gender mainstreaming formed the focus of deliberations giving rise to the framework strategy, which centred on the gender mainstreaming obligations set out in the Amsterdam Treaty and identified five primary areas in which to promote equality, namely, economic life, decision-making processes, social rights, civil life and changing gender roles and stereotypes. The strategy also pursued two strategic objectives, namely, the incorporation of equality between women and men in the EU’s external relations (including development) and within the enlargement process (when new countries join the Union).
Based on the framework strategy, annual equal treatment working programmes represented the Commission’s planned activities for the promotion of equal treatment in all policy areas. The working programmes were jointly prepared by all of the Commission’s departments.
Gender mainstreaming was listed as a concept and strategy of the EU in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) and was further consolidated in the European Commission’s Framework Strategy on Gender Equality 2001–2005. The aim of gender mainstreaming is to ensure that equality between women and men is incorporated in all EU policy areas and activities and within all phases of the policy process, namely, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The gender mainstreaming concept requires a constant assessment of policy measures to determine how they have an impact on the lives of women and men, with appropriate re-evaluation undertaken as necessary.
Central gender mainstreaming policy areas in the EU were previously, and still remain:
employment/job markets, pay gaps, representation/participation in decision-making processes, reconciliation of work and private life, social integration/security, structural funds, female migrants, the role of men (equality), education (general, vocational), women in science, gender budgeting, development cooperation, international gender equality policy, and violence against women/trafficking of women.
The ‘Europe 2020’ strategy is the EU’s new strategy for growth and employment (Council decision June 2010) aimed at ensuring a higher level of employment and productivity as well as combating poverty and social exclusion. The strategy formulates three priorities (smart, sustainable and inclusive growth), five headline targets (innovation, education, climate protection, employment and social cohesion) and seven flagship initiatives (skills/jobs, platform against poverty, innovation, jobs for young people, a digital agenda for Europe, resource efficiency and industrial policy).
To date, questions of gender equality policy have been afforded a somewhat subordinate role within the strategy. The strategy states the need to promote gender equality in terms of labour participation, economic growth and social cohesion. It also formulates a specific target employment rate of 75% for women and men, which is primarily to be achieved through greater involvement of women and older workers and migrants. In addition, the member states are called upon to take action to improve the reconciliation of work and family life and promote active ageing policies.
In relation to the goal of combating poverty and improving social integration, gender equality is addressed in terms of the need to support social groups at particular risk or disadvantage and to eliminate discrimination – with disabled persons, migrants, single-parent families, older women, minorities, Roma and the homeless listed as such groups.
The European Parliament (taking its lead from FEMM, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality) deplores the unsatisfactory way in which been handled under the strategy and is calling for the gender equality dimension to be systematically presented within the strategy. In particular, it calls for the inclusion of a ‘specific gender chapter, mechanisms for gender mainstreaming and targets for female employment coupled with indicators of economic independence’ as well as a strategy that ‘tak[es] into account both the effects of the current social
Drawing on implementation of the Framework Strategy against Discrimination and the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, in July 2008 the EU Commission adopted a ‘non-discrimination package’ within the scope of its renewed social agenda. The package encompasses
- a proposal for a new directive on equal treatment prohibiting discrimination outside the employment sphere on grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief;
- a communication for action against discrimination that, in addition to improved legislative protection and enforcement, also defines an active strategy to promote non-discrimination and equal opportunities, thereby particularly highlighting more effective use of the available instruments;
- a Commission decision creating a non-discrimination governmental experts group; and
- a working paper on EU instruments and policies for Roma inclusion.
As such, the renewed social agenda represents the EU’s current policy framework on anti-discrimination. Overall, in the face of current economic and social challenges the social agenda strives to enhance equal opportunities for EU citizens, improve access to high-quality services and strengthen solidarity with those ‘disadvantaged’ by change. In addition to combating discrimination and promoting gender equality, the agenda sets out six further priorities, namely, children and youth, jobs and skills, mobility, health, combating poverty and social exclusion, and fostering global opportunities and solidarity. Implementation of the agenda is to be achieved through a mixture of diverse policy instruments, including non-discrimination mainstreaming or, in other words, ‘ensuring that all EU policies promote opportunities, access and solidarity’.
As a political framework for anti-discrimination policy, a precursor to the social agenda was the framework strategy for non-discrimination. The result of comprehensive open consultation in 2004 on the basis of the Commission’s green paper on ‘equality and non-discrimination in an enlarged European Union (EU)’, the aims of the strategy focused on effectively combating discrimination, projecting diversity as a positive value and promoting equal opportunities. Overall, it aimed to ensure comprehensive application and enforcement of the EU’s anti-discrimination provisions, while also examining the further options – extending beyond legal protection – available to the EU in the fight against discrimination.
The core of the strategy for non-discrimination was the designation of 2007 as the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All.
The aim of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All was to increase awareness amongst European Union citizens as regards their rights in terms of equal treatment, to promote equal opportunities for all in various areas of life and to propagate diversity as a benefit and important factor for the European Union.
Allocated a total budget of 15 million euros, various activities were organised at local, regional and national level throughout the European Union. At a pan-European level these included:
- a ‘summit on equality’ (as well as further annual equality summits in the following years),
- a survey on European citizens’ attitudes to discrimination and
- an EU-wide information campaign on EU policy and legislation to combat discrimination.
Just one aspect of many addressed by the Year of Equal Opportunities, gender equality was not afforded particular priority, but also was not neglected. In the opinion of many, the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities and the framework strategy for non-discrimination represented a move on the part of the Commission towards a diversity policy that does not – with the exception of legislation – comprehensively highlight gender equality in the member states. This policy of equal opportunities appears to have been extremely well received, suggesting a general shift in policy emphasis in some member states away from gender equality and more in the direction of equality and diversity.
In the view of the Commission, this approach has succeeded in placing a greater emphasis on multiple forms of discrimination and viewing gender more as a source of discrimination in relation to other categories of discrimination. The majority of actions during the year focused on race/ethnic identity (61%) and gender (62%) as sources of discrimination. Above all, women from minority groups and older women were afforded greater attention than in the past. Greater consideration was also devoted, in particular, to age and sexual orientation as sources of discrimination, and awareness of discrimination against Roma in the EU also increased.
The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All was also subjected to external evaluation in order to assess its success at both the pan-EU level and within the member states. In addition to the final evaluation report, four thematic reports were compiled on the aspects of race/ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation and gender mainstreaming. The latter report concluded that, although there was a willingness to consider gender mainstreaming at the various action levels, the practical implementation of gender mainstreaming in the actions undertaken was somewhat unsatisfactory. It also concluded that, in future, more practical help needs to be provided by the EU to ensure that gender mainstreaming is consistently implemented.
Further links to European Year of Equal Opportunities for All 2007:
- European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007) – Towards a Just Society (information on the decision of the European Parliament and the Council and relevant activities)
- 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (information from the Directorate-General, retrospective/evaluating)
- Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions
As a predecessor to the framework strategy and the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, the action programme placed particular emphasis on ensuring that disadvantaged groups were included in the implementation of the programme. The aim was to support activities designed to combat discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, age, or sexual orientation, thereby contributing to one of the following three core objectives:
- promote a better understanding of the problems of discrimination through analysis and evaluation,
- develop active capabilities to combat and prevent discrimination by creating and strengthening dialogue between the various organisations involved, and
- promote fundamental values for combating discrimination through awareness-raising actions.
The European Commission actively cooperated with member states and civil society to realise the aims of the action programme and also held regular meetings with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and employers’ organisations for the purpose of shaping, implementing and evaluating the programme. Member states provided representatives for a consultative committee directed by the Commission, which in turn supported the Commission in drafting guidelines on programme budgeting and implementation.
Launched back in 2003 by the EU Commission (Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities), the campaign aims to increase awareness of discrimination and enhance understanding of EU legislation in this area. It also strives to generate debate on the themes of diversity and discrimination and, in particular, on how people in Europe stand to gain from greater equality. Through its activities, the campaign works to convey the message to as many people as possible that a diverse Europe is something to be valued, and that a life free from discrimination is a fundamental right in the EU. In addition, it aims to empower people to combat discrimination wherever they are confronted by it in their daily lives. Gender as a source of discrimination is explicitly not a part of the campaign’s measures.
- uilding understanding of what is involved for enterprises,
Funding: Actions and Programmes
At present, the Commission primarily funds gender equality policy activities through the PROGRESS programme (2007–2013), which has a budget of over 700 million euros. Additional funding for both the Roadmap and other EU gender equality activities is also provided by the structural funds and by the financial programmes for various policy areas.
To date, the EQUAL initiative has been the ESF’s vehicle for supporting transnational and innovative actions, including those relating to gender equality and anti-discrimination policy. Throughout the 2007–2013 programming period, the ESF will be applying the experience gained under the EQUAL initiative to all areas of ESF intervention, during which time it is estimated that approximately 4% of the total ESF budget (3 billion euros) will be devoted to transnational cooperation.
Four methods of cooperation – between public organisations as well as NGOs and companies – are primarily supported:
- cooperation between projects in the various member states,
- cooperation between national networks with a thematic focus,
- cooperation between organisations and regional partnerships, and
- partnerships between national organisations, such as ESF-managing authorities.
Transnational cooperation themes relating to gender equality and anti-discrimination include
- improving the social inclusion of disadvantaged people, in part by combating discrimination and promoting diversity in the workplace;
- improving women’s access to work and reconciliation of work and family life;
- supporting lifelong learning for workers through the promotion of enterprise and innovation;
- strengthening human capital, including reform of education systems and action to promote participation in general and vocational training.
Gender equality and anti-discrimination measures outside transnational cooperation are also promoted through the ESF task areas ‘Women and jobs’ and ‘Fighting discrimination’.
- his area focuses on specific actions to sustainably integrate women within the labour market and eliminate pay differentials, with the aim of increasing the employment participation rate of women to 60% by 2010. This task area also embraces the promotion of female entrepreneurs, women in management positions, reconciliation of work and family life, and actions to work against gender-stereotyped career selection and connotations, with migrants afforded particular emphasis as a target group in this respect.
The EQUAL initiative organised within the scope of the ESF was an important source of funding for gender equality policy in relation to employment. EQUAL ran during the period 2000–2006 and was allocated a total budget of over three billion euros, which was supplemented by national funding. As such, it was one of the EU’s primary instruments dedicated to promoting a balanced labour market. Support for equality between women and men was integrated within the various programme areas and also was specifically addressed through targeted actions.
Daphne is an important instrument in combating violence against women. The programme provides funding primarily to NGOs involved in helping victims of violence or implementing actions to combat violence.
Currently (2007–2013), within the scope of Daphne III, measures to prevent and combat violence against women, young people and children are being supported with funding totalling over 115 million euros. Action grants for each individual project range between 75,000 and 200,000 euros for a period of twelve months, whereby Commission funding may constitute up to 80% of eligible project costs.
The Daphne Toolkit is an online tool made available by the Commission that documents projects supported by the programme to date (results, impacts) and at the same time provides help in planning new projects, in particular as a networking tool for potential project partners.Action to prevent violence against children, young people and women: The Daphne II programme (2004–2008)
- Equality and Gender in Europe
- EU Treaties | Directives | Legal Regulations
- European Union (EU) Working and Action Programmes
- European Commission: "Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015"
- Institutions Of The EU Commission And Parliament
- Political groups in the European Parliament
- References, Sources and Debates