Just few days ago ( the 10th of May) here in Germany it was mother’s day.
Of course, most of the people were all focused on how to spend that special day with the women of their family. However, that should have also been an occasion to make people think more deeply about a particular issue: women’s condition and gender equality. I was walking in the street thinking about my business, when my attention was caught by a post card: “ Behind every great man there’s a great woman”. Everybody knows this quote. But it was that behind that gave me the input and yes, also the inspiration for this post. Too many times we women are forced to stay on the background, with no or low possibilities to success or to cover high position within the work system. As European citizen, I wanted to know more about this topic in the European area. This post sums what I found out.
“Achieving gender equality is central to the protection of human rights, the functioning of democracy, respect for the rule of law and economic growth and sustainability. “Thorbjørn Jagland (Secretary General of the Council of Europe)
Over the past decades, though differences among them, member states have become closer to issues of de facto gender equality Relevant efforts in the fields of human rights and gender equality has provided to improvements in women’s European rights . These efforts have led to programmes and policies aimed at promoting a balanced participation of women and men in political, public and everyday life ( for example in the working and educational fields).
Important is, to this extent, the European Council, which continues to struggle to defeat gender stereotypes, sexism and violence against women, trying also to change mentalities and attitudes within the European population. In fact, the belief that when women have equal chances with men to be socially and politically active, economies and societies thrive is in Europe widely shared. Thus, women’s more balanced participation in decision-making has been repeatedly stressed, since its contributes to positive transformative processes for societies has been finally recognized . In this respect , two legal treaties can be considered as milestone achievements: the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/197.htm) and the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?CL=ENG&NT=210) (Istanbul Convention).
However, remarkable differences separate theory from practice and implementation. The European Report on equality of genres (2014) has outlined the gaps in different spheres. It highlights, how, despite progress and undertaken actions, gender equality still remains very much an “unfinished business”. Yet equality between women and men has progressed and gender dissimilarities have narrowed over the last 20 years in the EU. But More needs and has to be done, since gender equality belongs to one of the EU’s founding principles and is considered to be a building block of its future. On the 15thof July 2014 the President Juncker has put this issue in his agenda, recognizing how it is crucial in its contribution to jobs, growth, fairness and democratic change. [In the “Political guidelines for the next European Commission”( Strasbourg)] But some areas still and will persist to be critical.
In fact, within company board members, women still account for less than a quarter of them, even if they cover 46% of the employed workforce. Nevertheless, a substantial variation of gender equality extent is highlighted across Member States.
Gender pay and pension gaps are reducing extremely slowly. . The former is stagnant at 16% and the latter has reached 39%. Moreover, women are more likely to be employed in less-well paid sectors.
Women are more likely to have a higher education degree, but are still under-represented in Science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, where men cover most of research and in senior posts at all levels of education, including higher education. This is a shocking data, since men performances in school are lower than women.
The governmental level presents significant gaps among Member States as well. Yet in a few of them gender parity has reached a good point. However, in the vast majority of them, the governmental personnel is mainly formed by men. Women account for less than a third of ministers and members of parliaments.