09 Sep, 2020

High-level political dialogue on gender equality issues needed at EU level

The Renew Europe Group at the European Parliament is calling for a high-level political dialogue on gender equality issues at the EU level by establishing a dedicated European Council configuration to ensure ministers address challenges related to women’s rights and gender equality.

Gender equality has been enshrined in the European treaties since 1957. Article 157 TFEU states that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work and authorises positive action to empower women. Article 153 TFEU allows the EU to act in the wider area of equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation. Article 19 TFEU enables legislation to combat all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sex.

Today, the EU has strong challenges to face in the field of women’s rights and gender equality: eradicating all forms of violence against women, closing the gender pay gap between women and men, improving women’s access to the labour market, increasing women’s representation in politics and ensuring respect for and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the EU recently introduced a new Gender Equality Strategy.

While Commissioner Helena Dalli is exclusively responsible for Equality and the European Parliament has a committee dedicated to Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, there is no specific Council configuration on Gender Equality and Ministers and Secretaries of State in charge of Gender Equality have no dedicated forum for discussion.

In its conclusions “Gender-Equal Economies in the EU: The Way Forward” adopted on the 10 December 2019, the Council stresses that “while old challenges remain, new ones are emerging. Objectives set for gender equality have not been fully achieved” and calls on the Commission and the Member States to “strengthen gender equality [...] by actively promoting high-level political dialogue on gender equality issues at EU level, and at the highest political level.”

In accordance with the Council rules of procedure, the European Council establishes the Council configurations. Therefore - Does the Council acknowledge that a configuration on Gender Equality gathering Ministers and Secretaries of State in charge of Gender Equality is needed in order to deliver common and concrete measures to address the challenges in the field of women’s rights and gender equality? Will the Council commit to establish a Council configuration on Gender Equality without delay, in order to ensure that gender equality issues are discussed at the highest political level?

The signatories of this proposal include MEPs Irène Tolleret, Nathalie Loiseau, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Sylvie Brunet, Sophie in 't Veld and Samira Rafaela.

Join ALDE Party on 10 September to discuss gender equality at a virtual Liberal Breakfast!

Photo credit: Jonathan Eyler-Werve, Women's March in Chicago 2017

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