8 March marks International Women's Day, an occasion to reflect on what is being done to encourage gender equality in all aspects of life.
The situation of women in sport varies hugely from one country to the next, but by and large it is not ideal anywhere, both in terms of participation in sport and in their involvement in the running of sport organisations. This justifies EU initiatives to ensure some progress in the coming years.
Gender equality is one of the priorities in our funding programme. Thanks to Erasmus+ some very good projects are carried out across Europe in areas such as female coaching and female participation in leadership positions.
Erasmus+: Sport also fund studies and one of the key ones this year looks at "gender-based violence in sport", trying to map the problem across Europe and gather comparable data. The study will be finished at the end of 2016 and the findings will be available at the beginning of 2017.
2014 was an important year for the promotion of women and sport, notably thanks to the publication of the Proposal for strategic actions 2014-2020 , which was followed by the Council conclusions on gender equality in sport.
Gender equality also has an important place in our policy priorities in the EU Work Plan for Sport. The expert group on good governance (set up by the work plan), has produced recommendations on gender equality in sport , finalised just a few weeks ago.
These recommendations focus on four key areas where actions are most needed:
By improving equality in these fields, we can also address the broader issue of girls' participation in sport and physical activity, unfortunately lower than that of boys.
Now it's up to the EU countries and sport organisations to do their part: we will certainly be there to support their work.