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Equal economic independence

female worker © European Union

Despite a general trend towards more equality in society and on the labour market, progress in eliminating gender inequalities remains slow. Economic independence is a prerequisite for enabling both women and men to exercise control over their lives and to make genuine choices.

Women's employment rates across the EU range from some 40% to 75%, but the EU average is 75.8% for men and 62.5% for women (2009).

To reach the Europe 2020 targets of a 75% employment rate for both women and men, particular attention needs to be given to the labour market participation of older women, single parents, women with a disability, migrant women and women from ethnic minorities.

The impact of parenthood on labour market participation is still very different for women and men - only 65.6% of women with children under 12 work, as opposed to 90.3% of men. This reflects the unequal sharing of family responsibilities, but also often signals a lack of childcare and work-life balance opportunities.

Women work part-time more than men (accounting for over 75% of part-timers), in less valued jobs and sectors.

Nearly 60% of EU university graduates are women, but they account for less than 33% of scientists and engineers across Europe, yet represent nearly 80% of the total workforce in the health, education and welfare sectors.

A gender-segregated labour market, the difficulty of balancing work and family life, the undervaluation of female skills and work are some of the complex causes of the persistent gender pay gap. Women in the EU earn on average 16% less than men for each hour worked.

To address these issues, the Commission will:

Please find here all the documents related to the equal economic independence.