EU Commission unveils Gender Equality Strategy

Ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March, the EU Commission released its Gender Equality Strategy, outlining actions for the next five years, including, among others, ending gender-based violence, also online, and ensuring equal participation and opportunities in the labour market, including equal pay. As part of the strategy, the Commission has launched a public consultation on pay transparency.

Below is a compilation of articles with a particular focus on business and human rights, including responses from trade unions to the strategy, urging the Commission to work with the unions at member state level to achieve ratification of the ILO convention on violence and harassment at work.

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Article
5 March 2020

'To be free, to thrive, to lead': Commission unveils Gender Equality Strategy

Author: Lorna Hutchinson, The Parliament

The Gender Equality Strategy is the first Commission strategy in this area of equality... 

"As our society is undergoing important transitions, be it green or digital, we must ensure that women and men have equal opportunities and that inequalities are not further exacerbated by change..."

The Commission will also propose the Digital Services Act to clarify what measures are expected from platforms to address illegal activities online, including online violence targeting women...

On Thursday the Commission launched a public consultation on pay transparency and will table binding measures by the end of 2020...

With women woefully underrepresented in leading positions, including EU's largest companies where only 8 percent of CEOs are women, the Commission said it will push for the adoption of the 2012 proposal for gender balance on corporate boards...

ENAR, the European Network Against Racism, said it was disappointing that the strategy does not include any specific measures or guarantees to ensure policies will be intersectional...

ENAR added that policies to achieve gender balance in leadership positions make no reference to the underrepresentation of minority women in management positions.

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Article
5 March 2020

ETUC response to EU Gender Equality Strategy: actions needed to fight backlash against equality

Author: ETUC

“At a time when we are seeing a backlash against gender equality,  European action that pushes member states to renew the fight to end discrimination faced by women every day at work is much needed. We urge Ursula von der Leyen to be bolder, stronger and faster.

“The consultation on pay transparency must take place as quickly as possible so we can start seeing action on Europe’s 16% gender pay gap... The Directive also needs to empower women workers and their unions to negotiate the changes needed  to ensure equal pay in the workplace.

"We were disappointed with the failure to really grapple with the new forms of sexism at work such as are appearing in various Artificial Intelligence systems. But trade unions have led the fight for gender balance on company boards so welcome Commission’s commitment to delivering that. Women should have at least 40% of seats on company boards, it must mean that all women from all backgrounds and life experience [...] are represented.

“The [...] ETUC urges [the Commission] to work with the unions at member state level to achieve ratification [of the ILO convention on violence and harassment including sexual harassment against women at work].”

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Article
5 March 2020

EU revives plans for mandatory quotas of women on company boards

Author: Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian

The European Union executive is reviving plans for mandatory quotas of women on company boards, amid slowing progress towards gender equality among top management...

Under a 2012 draft directive, European-listed companies would face fines if they failed to ensure that at least 40% of their non-executive board seats were taken by women...

The commission announced on Thursday that it was dusting down the 2012 draft law, as it launched a five-year gender equality strategy. The wide-ranging plan proposes to harmonise European law on violence against women, as well as measures to combat sexual harassment and female genital mutilation.

The commission argues that gender parity is most worrying in the sphere of power, with women underrepresented in politics and business...

At the end of the year, Brussels will also propose legislation on salary transparency, a promise from the European commission president...

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Article
5 March 2020

Gender Equality Strategy: Striving for a Union of equality

Author: European Commission

Today, the European Commission presented its strategy for equality between women and men in Europe. While the EU is a global leader in gender equality [...], gender-based violence and stereotypes continue to persist: one in three women in the EU was subject to physical and/or sexual violence. Even though more women graduate from universities, they earn on average 16% less than men do and only 8% of CEO's of the EU's largest companies are women.

To address this, the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 sets out key actions for the next 5 years and commits to ensure that the Commission will include an equality perspective in all EU policy areas...

Concrete actions for equality 2020-2025

1. [T]he Strategy calls for legal measures to criminalise violence against women... [T]he Commission will propose the Digital Services Act to clarify what measures are expected from platforms to address illegal activities online, including online violence targeting women...

2. To address the unequal pay the Commission launches today a public consultation on pay transparency and will table binding measures by the end of 2020...

3. To let women lead in business, among others, the Commission will push for the adoption of the 2012 proposal for gender balance on corporate boards...

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