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Conference "Equality between women and men"


The conference "Equality between women and men" took place in Brussels on 19 and 20 September. The conference brought together more than 400 participants from European institutions, international organisations, Member States, social partners and civil society. It marked the first year of the Strategy for equality between women and men (2010-2015) which was adopted on 21 September 2010. It was also an opportunity to have important debates around the key priorities of the Strategy.

The aim of the conference was:

  • to explore the causes and consequences of the slow progress in advancing gender equality
  • to identify the ideas and initiatives that could give new impulses for achieving gender equality

The economic crisis has been a significant focus in the debates. Particular concern was raised as to the gendered nature of the responses to this crisis:

  • Decision making in financial centres has been male dominated and there is a need for gendered democratic accountability to be developed in the world of finance.
  • Initial responses to the crisis focused on providing support to male dominated employment sectors which had been damaged by the crisis.
  • Current responses to the crisis are focused on cutting back public expenditures which may have a negative impact on public services. Women are both users and providers of public services.
  • Reducing the fiscal deficit by cutting expenditure rather than by raising taxes is a gender issue.

The conference heard a strong and detailed articulation of the case for gender equality. This case was established in terms of justice, business success, economic growth and societal well being. Gender equality can and should be a factor in the recovery out of the economic crisis. Gender equality can enable the targets of Europe 2020 to be met.

Three elements were emphasized:

  • Legislation and in particular pro-active legislation that included positive duties on key stakeholders to take action.
  • Awareness campaigns and in particular campaigns that challenged stereotypes, models of masculinity and attitudes to gender equality.
  • Funding and investment in gender equality with a particular emphasis on the need for a gender dimension in the multi-annual financial perspective.

Françoise Le Bail, Director General for Justice, closed the conference and made a strong and sound plea for gender equality. Regarding the EU's contribution to the gender equality, she stressed the important set of rules of the EU and said that gender equality is crucial for the Europe 2020 strategy, particularly if one looks at the need to improve the women's employment rates.

The conference also touched upon issues of violence against women, reconciliation, decision-making, and the gender pay gap.

You can see the recorded conference via webstreaming: day 1 - day 2.

Programmepdf(158 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

Introductory session

Session I: Equal economic independence: The contribution of women to achieving the Europe 2020 targets

Session II: Equal pay for equal work and work of equal value: Responding to unequal pay

Session III: Equal economic independence: Gender equality in caring responsibilities over the life cycle

Session IV: Dignity, integrity and an end to gender-based violence: Eliminating all forms of gender-based violence

Session V: Equality in decision making: Diverse approaches for gender balanced corporate boards