Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010)

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Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010)

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The purpose of this roadmap is to drive the gender equality agenda forward. It builds on the Framework Strategy for equality between women and men 2001-2005 and takes stock of this strategy by reinforcing existing activities and proposing new ones. The roadmap identifies six priority areas and sets objectives and key actions for each of these to make them easier to achieve. It will be followed by an implementation report in 2008 and an evaluation with a follow-up proposal in 2010. ACT Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - A Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 [COM(2006) 92 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
SUMMARY The roadmap defines some existing areas and proposes other completely new areas of action. A total of six priority areas have been selected: equal economic independence for women and men, reconciliation of private and professional life, equal representation in decision-making, eradication of all forms of gender-based violence, elimination of gender stereotypes, and promotion of gender equality in external and development policies.
Equal economic independence for women and men
Despite the significant progress made thanks to equal treatment legislation and the social dialogue, Europe still faces considerable challenges. The Commission has set its objectives around six key points.

  • Some of the Lisbon targets relate to the gender dimension, but the efforts made to achieve them must be strengthened, particularly as regards employment and unemployment rates for women.
  • Despite existing Community legislation, there is still a 15% pay gap between women and men which arises from structural inequalities such as segregation in work sectors.
  • Women constitute, on average, 30% of entrepreneurs in the EU. They often face greater difficulties than men in accessing finance and training.
  • The risk of poverty is greater for women than for men, as they are more likely to have interrupted careers and, therefore, fewer rights. Social protection systems should allow women to accumulate adequate individual pension rights.
  • Women and men are confronted with different health risks. Medical research and many safety and health standards relate more to men and male-dominated work areas.
  • Combating multiple discrimination against immigrant and ethnic minority women.
The reconciliation of private and professional life
  • Flexible working arrangements offer many advantages. However, the fact that far more women than men make use of such arrangements has a negative impact on their position in the workplace and their economic independence.
  • The result of demographic decline is that the EU cannot afford any waste of human capital. Better childcare facilities make it possible to find a new work-life balance.
  • Few men take parental leave or work part-time. Measures should be taken to encourage them to take up family responsibilities.
Equal representation in decision-making
  • Women's persistent under-representation in civil society, politics and senior management in public administration is a democratic deficit.
  • A balanced participation can contribute to a more productive and innovative work culture. Transparency in promotion processes is essential.
  • Reaching the target, set by the Member States, of 25% women in leading positions in public sector research can contribute to increasing the innovation, quality and competitiveness of research.
The eradication of all forms of gender-based violence
  • Practices such as female genital mutilation or early and forced marriages are breaches of the fundamental right to life, safety, freedom, dignity and physical and emotional integrity.
  • To combat trafficking in women, the Commission suggests criminalising such traffic through appropriate legislation, at the same time as discouraging the demand for human beings for sexual exploitation. The new Directive on residence permits for victims of trafficking will provide a tool for reintegrating them into the labour market.
The elimination of gender stereotypes
  • In education and culture: Young people should be encouraged to explore non-traditional educational paths, to avoid placing women in occupations that are less valued and less well paid.
  • In the labour market: Women still face both horizontal and vertical segregation. They continue to be employed in sectors that are less valued, and they generally occupy the lower echelons of the organisational hierarchy.
  • In the media.
The promotion of gender equality in external and development policies
When promoting equality in external and development policies, it is necessary to differentiate between acceding, candidate and potential candidate countries, and other countries which may take part in the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The former must enforce the Community acquis, whereas in the case of the latter, the EU seeks to promote internationally recognised principles such as the Millennium Development Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). It has also reaffirmed, in the "European Consensus on Development", that gender equality is one of the five key principles of development policy. The new EU Strategy for Africa also includes this aspect.
KEY ACTIONS
Review of legislation
The Commission will review the existing EU gender equality legislation not included in the 2005 recast exercise with a view to modernising it.
With the assistance of the Commission Inter-Service Group on Gender Mainstreaming, it will ensure that the aspect of gender equality is incorporated as far as possible into all policies, such as the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs and the new streamlined open method of coordination that covers pensions, social inclusion, health and long-term care.
Raising awareness
Raising awareness is the main way of eliminating gender stereotypes. One action the Commission hopes to take is to develop dialogue with EU citizens through the plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate, and the Your Europe portal.
Better statistics and more research
The need for better statistics has arisen in most fields. New indicators and a new composite Gender Equality Index should make it easier to compare data at EU level. Statistics broken down by sex are also important.
More research is required on the gender dimension in health and on health and social sectors professions. Work will continue on the European database on women and men in decision-making. The 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development may be used as an instrument to finance specific research.
At international level, the BPfA, which is backed by the Commission, makes provision for better data collection capacity on gender mainstreaming in developing countries.
Other measures
The Commission will take gender mainstreaming into account in a number of future communications, such as those on demography, the establishment of a system for comparable statistics on crime, victims and criminal justice, and "A European Vision on Gender Equality in Development Cooperation".
It will develop a European Guide of Best Practices on ICT Gender Issues and, in 2006, guidelines on gender mainstreaming in international crisis management training activities, as well as gender mainstreaming manuals for actors involved in the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs and the new streamlined open method of coordination that covers pensions, social inclusion, health and long-term care. The Commission will present a Communication on the gender pay gap in 2007.
A number of events will offer the opportunity to drive the gender equality agenda forward: the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All in 2007; the European Year of Combating Exclusion and Poverty in 2010; and a Euromed Ministerial Conference on gender equality in 2006.
The Commission will establish an EU network of women in economic and political decision-making positions, and a network of gender equality bodies. It will work closely with NGOs and the social partners.
Financing
A new European Institute for Gender Equality, with EUR 50 million of funding, will play a key role in monitoring most of the above actions.
Funding for key actions will come from a multitude of sources, including the future PROGRESS programme, given that gender equality is an aspect that is common to a number of policies.
Fot this reason, the Commission will explore the possibilities of integrating and assessing the impact of the gender perspective in budgeting at EU level.
The Structural Funds, such as the EFF and EAFRD (2007-2013), are a major source of funding. The Structural Funds will also help achieve the Barcelona targets on childcare and the development of other care facilities.
The ESF plays a role in integrating women into the labour market, as well as in the integration of women from third countries into the EU, and in the elimination of stereotypes.

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