A proposed new plan focuses on closing the pay gap and opening up company boardrooms to more women. Tackling domestic violence is also a top priority.
Despite the progress made towards equality in recent years, women, on average, still earn 18% less than men in the EU. They are also under-represented in top decision-making roles and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.
As well as being a fundamental right, gender equality is also crucial for the EU’s growth and competitiveness. Getting more women in the job market will help the EU meet its 75% employment target by 2020.
“To get the engine of growth going again, Europe needs to make better use of women's talents, including in the top jobs,” says justice commissioner, Viviane Reding.
The new five-year gender equality strategy proposes boardroom quotas and other measures to get more women into upper-management positions. The plan also aims to increase the number of women overall in business and self-employment and to set up an annual awareness-raising event, "European equal-pay day". Each year the EU will invite employers, trade unions and other interested groups to a gender equality dialogue, to assess progress.
The EU is also planning action to combat domestic violence – with overwhelming public support.
The strategy will also look at areas where men are currently disadvantaged, with measures to improve fathers’ access to parental leave and reduce the school drop-out rate for boys.