Women’s position in the EU: an ongoing challenge and issue

Policy Study

09/10/2014

At the eve of the European elections in ’09, FEPS intends to assess the situation of women in the European Union. Indeed, the EU has developed advanced legal corpus and action programmes to foster the equality principle between women and men. However, no member State is applying fully this principle. This study analyses the different sectors – employment, political life, violence against women, sexual and reproduction rights in particular – where sometimes sharp gender discriminations remain. It also puts forward proposals aiming at the emerging of a true equality culture within Europe.

A study for FEPS and FJJ by Ghislaine TOUTAIN, Director of External Relations of the Fondation Jean-Jaurès (France) 

There are 260 million women in the European Union. Ever since its creation in 1957 with the signing of the Treaty of Rome, artice119, (now article 141 of the European Communities), has stipulated equal pay between women and men. Throughout the ensuing treaties this article has allowed a broadening of the legal basis which underpins the Union’s equality policy. In 1997 the Treaty of Amsterdam made equality one of the fundamental principles of community law, while the Charter of Fundamental Rights forbids any discrimination on the basis of gender and makes it a duty to achieve equality between women and men in every area.

Yet women remain Europhobic. The Eurobarometer report published in January 2007 showed that European women are more suspicious of and less concerned about Europe than men. And indeed it is true that despite considerable progress, women in Europe continue to varying degrees and depending on the member state, to experience inequality and often harsh discrimination in all walks of life – including employment, politics, reproductive rights and violence.

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