Gender equality votes in the European Parliament

A narrow left-leaning majority in the European Parliament says the Commission has watered down the promotion of gender equality by only publishing a working paper instead of a full strategy for the years 2016-2020.

The centre-left coalition passed the resolution calling for a complete strategy on gender equality in early February 2016. The move was controversial, as the biggest parliamentary group, the European People’s Party (EPP) voted largely against it, criticising the centre-left’s demand for more legislation before current laws were fully implemented. The European Union recognises equality between men and women as a fundamental value and objective. The principle of “equal pay for equal work” was already included in the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

The Union has the responsibility to introduce legislation to fight against gender-based discrimination and is committed to promoting the principle of gender equality. Although inequalities still exist, the EU has made significant progress over the last decades. The working document focuses on five priority areas: “Increasing female labour market participation and equal economic independence, reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women; promoting equality between women and men in decision-making; combating gender based-violence, including tracking in human beings and protecting and supporting victims; promoting gender equality and women’s rights across the world.” Furthermore, the text underlines the need to include a gender equality perspective into all EU policies and funding programmes.

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