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Gender equality

Smiling business people standing together © Yuri Arcurs, Fotolia

Equality between women and men is one of the European Union's founding values. It goes back to 1957 when the principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome.

The European Union's achievements in fostering equality between women and men have helped to change the lives of many European citizens for the better.

Although inequalities still exist, the EU has made significant progress over the last decades. This is mainly thanks to:

  • equal treatment legislation;
  • gender mainstreaming (integration of the gender perspective into all other policies);
  • specific measures for the advancement of women.

Some encouraging trends include the increased number of women in the labour market and their progress in securing better education and training.

However, gender gaps remain and in the labour market, women are still over-represented in lower paid sectors and under-represented in decision-making positions.

The Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019 pdf(548 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  was published in December 2015, and is a follow-up and prolongation of the Commission Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015pdf(883 kB) Choose translations of the previous link . It sets the framework for the Commission's future work towards improving gender equality.

The Strategic engagement focuses on the following five priority areas:
1.    Increasing female labour market participation and equal economic independence;
2.    Reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women;
3.    Promoting equality between women and men in decision-making;
4.    Combating gender-based violence and protecting and supporting victims;
5.    Promoting gender equality and women's rights across the world.

The Strategic engagement sets out objectives in each of these priority areas and identifies more than 30 concrete actions. It reaffirms commitment to gender mainstreaming: A gender equality perspective will be integrated into all EU policies as well as into EU funding programmes. The Strategic engagement also supports the implementation of the gender equality dimension in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Progress is reported every year and presented in a Report on Equality between women and men.

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