Although consciousness has been raised in recent years regarding the need to promote equality between men and women, a gender gap still exists in the European community.
Oscar Bravo Fong
When considering this fact recently, the European Council concluded that achieving parity between the sexes is necessary to safeguard human rights and democracy.
It’s important to recognise that this requirement “entails both equal rights for men and women, girls and boys, and a similar level of visibility, empowerment, responsibility and participation in all areas of public and private life,” the report said. Besides which, it implies equality of access to distributed resources.
Yet, the fact remains that a number of studies show how in the EU block of 28 countries women are still, in many places, relegated to a secondary position, fulfilling traditional roles.
Suffice to say, thousands of women, besides receiving a lower salary for doing the same work as men, shoulder a greater load of domestic chores and childcare.
To achieve a greater female presence in the economy and to create opportunities that result in women’s economic independence, European bodies, such as the Council, should make recommendations to states on how to produce conditions conducive to these rights being exercised.
Following this line of thought, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, declared that “we must continue working so there are more women in politics, but also in business. It’s a battle for dignity and respect that we must all fight.”
When it comes to political participation, we can see that although the proportion of women in the European Parliament is increasing it still lies at 36.4% – the average reached during the last legislative term between 2014 to 2019 – according to Eurostat, the European Statistics Office.
Prior to this, the percentage of women sitting in the European Parliament languished at 15.2% in the period from 1979 to 1984, and reached 29.9% between 2004 to 2009.
On the other hand, the number of women holding executive positions in the European Parliament, though far below optimal levels, has increased in recent years.
In the current eighth legislative body, 5 of 14 vice-presidents and 11 of 23 commissioners are women.
Confronting this reality less than two months away from the elections to form the new European Parliament – which will consist of 705 MEPs – the EU itself has urged member states and political parties to promote women as members of the European Parliament so that a better gender balance within this governing body may result.
The European Parliament has warned in a report that women remain under-represented in politics at the European level as much as at the local and national levels.
Another issue of great concern for the so-called Old World, alongside women’s under-representation in the economic and political spheres, is the violence women are subjected to, as they bear the brunt of pernicious gender stereotypes and sexism.
Constituting a violation of human rights and a severe impediment to gender equality, the EU considers violence committed against women as one of the most notable expressions of the unequal power balance between the sexes.
In brief, according to statistics from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, one in three European women has suffered physical or sexual aggression at some point, while, every year, more than three thousand women are killed by a partner or family member.
To break down the barriers erected in women’s paths in various spheres across Europe, it is worth quoting Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the first female president of Croatia, “Our starting point is a change in mentality. We need to build a political culture that leads to women’s equal participation.” (PL)
(Translated by Elizabeth Dann) – Photos: Pixabay