Gaps in gender equality in Europe are shrinking, but the rate of progress is slow, according to an annual EU report published today.
The report found persistent inequalities between the sexes in employment, pay and representation, while violence against women remains a big problem:
EU efforts to reduce inequalities have brought major improvements:
However, the report estimates that, at the current rate of change, it will take 70 years to make equal pay a reality, and 20 years for women to achieve 40% representation in national parliaments.
EU efforts to improve gender equality between 2010 and 2015 focus on equal economic independence, equal pay and ending gender-based violence.
Work in this direction continues. In March, the EU recommended improving pay transparency to help tackle the pay gap, and a proposal on affirmative action to achieve parity in boardrooms is making progress.
A second report, also published today, shows that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – which guarantees the rights of EU citizens, including equality and non-discrimination – is beginning to play a more prominent role in law and policymaking. Courts are increasingly referring to it, and further legislation to uphold rights was proposed in 2013.
The report reveals that European citizens have a strong interest in fundamental rights issues. Almost half the queries fielded by EU information centres last year concerned free movement and residence, while 5% were about anti-discrimination rules.