Gender in the EU. The Future of the Gender Policies in the European Union

Gender in the EU. The Future of the Gender Policies in the European Union

ISBN: 978-83-61340-52-2
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Regional Office Warsaw
Warsaw 2009


The impact of the EU accession on gender equality is perceived as ambivalent. On the one hand, gender equality issues have been solidified in political and administrative practice due to the implementation of the strategy of gender mainstreaming. Yet on the other hand, the introduction of EU solutions and standards has led to a change of the language used to address women’s rights or gender equality. The equality and antidiscrimination discourse has replaced the discourse of women’s rights, which may lead to the marginalization of certain demands (e.g. right to abortion, right to contraception etc.).

At the same, it may seem that women’s problems are being addressed. Therefore, it is characteristic that many women’s organizations and social actors have changed their attitude towards the European Union, from high hopes which accompanied the EU accession, to more critical reflection. One of the interesting phenomena visible in the “new” member states is the development of the social critique of the EU project from a feminist perspective.

The authors of the publication point out that despite undeniable achievements of the EU gender architecture, its future depends on embracing new concepts, mechanisms and partnerships addressing the root causes of gender inequality embedded in the traditional mindsets, institutions, policies and practices related to the family, the society and the economic, social and political orders.

The new European Institute for Gender Equality, within its mandate, could play an important role in this process as a hub for new thinking, research and networking, drawing on work already done by some governments, academia and civil society. Advancing an economic case for gender equality is a priority today, but as a “missing link” and a complement to, but not a replacement of, the moral case pursued within a human rights framework.

Moreover, the authors emphasize that the European Union is not a ready-made structure or a complete political project. The EU is a dynamic organism, where people are constantly seeking answers to the most burning issues and challenges of the day. Therefore, instead of expecting the EU to help us to find solutions, we must confront the question of what kind of Europe we want and start formulating the answers.

The full publication can be downloaded here (pdf, 54 pages, 5 MB).

This publication can be ordered at:
Heinrich Böll Foundation Regional Office Warsaw,
ul. Żurawia 45,
00-680 Warsaw, Poland
phone: + 48 22 59 42 333
e-mail: hbs@boell.pl

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