Equal opportunities for women and men in the European Union


140 Pages
Read an excerpt
Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more


Annual report 1996
Social policy
Fundamental rights



Published by
Reads 15
Language English
Document size 29 MB
Report a problem

Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men in the European Union
European Commission Equal Opportunities for Women
and Men in the European Union
Annual Report 1996
Employment &. social affairs
Equal Opportunities
European Commission
Directorate-General for Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs
Unit V/D/5 A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet. It can be
accessed through the Europa server (http://europa.eu.int)
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1997
ISBN 92-827-8237-9
© ECSC-EC-EAEC, Brussels · Luxembourg, 1997
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in the United Kingdom CONTENTS
1.1 Mainstreaming and integration 15
1.2 Structural Funds and equal opportunities 21
1.3 Social dialogue and social partners8
2.1 Equality and economy 29
2.2 The European employment strategy
and national multiannual programmes 42
2.3 Business and women entrepreneurs 54
3.1 The effect of children on parents' employment 57
3.2 Parental leave 63
3.3 The individualisation of rights 70
4.1 The current situation of women in decision-making 77
4.2 Why the need for a balanced participation of women
and men? 80
4.3 Strategies for bringing more women into political
decision-making positions2
4Λ Legislation and initiatives at European level 85
4.5 Women in decision-making inn trade unions 9CHAPTER 5 ENABLING WOMEN TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHTS 95
5.1 Exercising rights 95
5.2 Enforcement and remedies 103
5.3 Current state of community law remedies 106
6.1 The Beijing preparatory process 113
6.2 The conference itself 120
6.3 The contribution of non-governmental organisations 121
6.4 After the conference implementing the platform for action 123
Equal opportunities for women and men is a subject which has been addressed in documents of all types. This Report is
the first to cover Community policy in equal opportunities as a whole. It is aimed at a broad audience, that includes not only
those with responsibility for policies of equal opportunity, but also other policies such as employment, social affairs, indus­
trial relations, training and education at European, national and/or regional levels. It will also be an interesting tool for mem­
bers of the European Parliament, the social partners, for academic and research centres and all those who are involved with
the current debate on equal opportunities.
The Commission intends to publish a report on equal opportunities in the EU each year. Its aim is to respond to three
main goals: to give visible expression to community policy on equal opportunities between women and men (visibility), to
encourage debate on the progress to be achieved and the policies to develop (strategy) and to act as a reference point for the
Commission, the Member States of the EU and countries applying for membership (convergence).
This report reviews the advances which have been achieved at the level of Member States and the Union and thus acts as
a monitoring instrument for equal opportunities. It offers you, the readers, information concerning several subjects related to
equal opportunities. Its structure reflects, in broad outline, the Fourth Community Action Programme on equal opportuni­
ties (first part) and deals with five main themes : building partnership in a changing society, women and men in a changing
economy, reconciling work and family life, promoting balanced participation in decision making and enabling women to
exercise their rights. The second part of the Report is intended to tackle a specific and topical subject in the equal opportu­
nities debate. This year the United Nations World Conference on women (Beijing September 1995) is the selected subject.
Substantial emphasis is given to Community and national level trends. A balance between these two aspects was sought.
Information on national (and regional) events was gatheted with, amongst others, the help of the advisory committee on
Equal opportunities for women and men. I would like to waimly thank the members of the Committee for their coopera­
Information on the integration of equal opportunities into other community or national policies can be found in annual
reports, other than this, published by the Commission, such as for example the report 'Employment in Europe', the activ­
ity report of the SOCRATES programme, the LEONARDO DA VINCI programme or 'Youth for Europe III'.
This report will be discussed, at Community level, by many actors involved in equal opportunities polices. I hope that this
report and those which follow, will contribute fully to progress in equal opportunities between women and men.
Padraig Flynn SUMMARY
Equality between women and men is indis­
putably recognised as a basic principle of democ­
racy and respect for humankind. Since its cre­
ation, the Community has recognised the princi­
ple of equal pay and, on this basis, has developed
a consistent set of legal provisions aimed at guar­
anteeing equal rights for access to employment,
vocational training, working conditions and to a
large extent, social protection.
In order to promote equality in practice, the
Community has implemented specific action
programmes since the 1980s, which, though hav­
ing limited budgetary resources, have had a sub­
stantial knock-on effect, particularly by stimulat­
ing further action in the individual Member
States. Furthermore, the European Council
meeting in Essen (December 1994), declared that
the promotion of equal opportunities for women
and men was a key priority of the European
Union and the Member States, on a par with the
struggle against unemployment.
Indeed, the Commission has cited the achieve­
ment of equal opportunities as one of the major
considerations in the development of all its poli­
cies. By so doing, equal opportunities has now
become a policy which should intersect all other
policies - a mainstream policy which is to be
applied by all.
This ambitious approach was presented in the
Commission Communication proposing the
Fourth Action Programme on Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men (1996-2000), and was
endorsed by a subsequent Council Decision.'
The adoption of the action programme was fol-
1 Council Decision of 22.12.1995, OJ L 335 of 30.12.1995.
and use prams and pushchairs. The development lowed in February 1996 by a Communication
of good, efficient and qualitative public passenger from the Commission on 'Incorporating equal
transport systems which take into account acces­opportunities for women and men into all
sibility for passengers with specific needs would Community policies and activities'.2
contribute to equal opportunities.
This annual Report on equal opportunides for
Over time, one can see a greater emphasis on women and men in the European Union was
mainstreaming which does not imply the end of announced in the 1994 Commission White Paper
positive action policy. Both are complementary 'European Social Policy - A Way Forward for the
and they should be applied together. This process Union'.3 It offers a review of developments in
can be seen not only in the three Community action equality at both Member State and European
programmes, but also in development cooperation level. As such it may be used as an instrument for
policy and in individual Member States. monitoring equality policies - an essential
Mainstreaming was also a key issue at the Beijing requirement of mainstreaming.
conference to which the Union made a significant
contribution (see Chapter 6).
The implementation of a strategy of main-
streaming is a complex and long-term process,
which requires a diversity of approaches. It
demands, for example, analysis of the current sit­
BUILDING uation to establish the differential impact of pol­
icy on women and on men, disaggregated data,
funding, and a gender balance of those who take
the necessary decisions. INA CHANGING
It demands the mobilisation of all policies and
the improvement of consultation and coordina­
tion between all those involved in these policies.
To this end, the Commission has set up a
Efforts to promote equal opportunities are
Commissioners' group under the chairmanship
being strengthened in many aspects of the
of the President, to take an overview of equal
European Union's policies and programmes. The
rights and opportunities for women and men at
key to this developing strategy can be summed
Union and Commission level.
up as 'mainstreaming', a concept that was men­
tioned in the Third Action Programme and is
considerably developed in the Fourth Action 77?^ Structural Funds
Programme. This more global approach to equal­
There has been an overt equal opportunities ity calls for the development of a gender perspec­
dimension in the European Social Fund (ESF), tive and gender analysis of all policies, pro­
the oldest of the Structural Funds, since at least grammes and actions. 'Mainstreaming' is defined
1976 and, as for the other funds, with each as the systematic consideration of the differences
between the conditions, situations and needs of review, the equality element has grown. However,
women and men in all Community policies, at both the statements of policy on equal opportu­
the point of planning, implementing and evalua­ nities and the actual delivery of funding to equal­
tion, as applied to Europe, the industrialised ity programmes and actions have remained a very
countries and the developing countries. small part of the overall picture. Whilst there has
been an undeniable increase in the number of
An application of mainstreaming policy in, for
women benefiting from the ESF, most of the
example, transport policy means that it takes into
training that it provides for women are for tradi-
account the fact that women are much more fre­
quent users of public transport and less frequent­
ly own or have access to a car, as compared to
2 COM(96) 67 Knal of 21.2.1996.
men. Women also frequently travel with children >COM(94) 333 of 27.7.1994.