Gender Equality : Belgian Presidency Enhances New Strategy

Article excerpt

The European Union is stepping up its initiatives to encourage gender equality in member states. On the Commission side, the new gender equality strategy (2010-2015) will be published on 21 September. In the Council, the Belgian Presidency presented draft conclusions, on 13 September, to the social policies working group, on strengthening the commitment and stepping up action to tackle the gender pay gap.

FIVE PRIORITIES

In accordance with the principles laid down in the March 2010 Women's Charter, the new strategy for gender equality constitutes the Commission's work programme in this field. It proposes a range of actions based on five priorities: 1. equal economic independence for women and men; 2. equal pay for equal work; 3. equality in decision making; 4. dignity, integrity and end of gender-based violence; and 5. the promotion of gender equality outside the EU. The strategy follows on from the 2006-2010 road map, which the European Parliament judged as relatively positive. In a resolution adopted on 17 June, MEPs welcomed the progress made in the women's employment rate, which is close to 60%; in work-life balance (which is no longer a priority as such in the new strategy); and in education. However, they also requested the Commission to propose more binding measures and to tackle paternity leave, domestic violence and discrimination, including wage discrimination. Accordingly, Parliament called for amendment of Directive 2006/54/EC on implementation of the principle of equal opportunity and equal treatment for women and men in matters of employment and occupation, with a view to reducing the wage gap to 0-5% in 2020 (it was 18% in 2008).

TARGETS, FOLLOW-UP AND PENALTIES

The Belgian Presidency proposes to set targets in the national reform programmes, matched with a timetable and specific strategy. …