On the 11th of March the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative resolution on the “Report on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013”, affirming its will to fight gender discrimination and inequality in Europe.
Presented by the socialist MEP, Marc Tarabella, and approved with a large majority (441 votes in favor, 205 against and 52 abstentions), the report recognizes the persistent differences between women and men and calls on the Council and the Member States to address a wide range of policy issues.
The report acknowledges the high problematic phenomenon of gender inequality in the labour market both in terms on employment rates and salary gaps and the increasing poverty among women, especially older women and single mother. In these regards, the resolution promotes a number of policy instruments such as improving of childcare facilities and work-life balance measures, reducing gender gap in employment and pension and establishing paid paternity leave.
Given the difficulty for the European Union to achieve its targets for a sustainable, smart and inclusive economy and that under the present trend the target of 75% of women in employment will not be reached until 2038, the European Parliament also called for the introduction of a gender pillar into the Europe 2020 strategy to measure the improvements made by Member States in the reduction of the gender gap that could serve as a basis for the country-specific recommendations.
Furthermore, the report welcomes the system of gender quotas introduced in some Member States and calls on the Council to continue the legislative process on the directive on gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies that is still blocked at Council level.
Underlining that one in three women in the EU has been physically and/or sexually assaulted, the report also proposes to make 2016 the European year against violence against women in order to raise public awareness on this important issue.
Surprisingly, the resolution makes explicit reference to the right of abortion which last year caused the rejection of the report presented by the Portuguese Ines Cristina Zuber (GUE-NGL). Indeed, the report recognizes that various studies show that abortion rates in countries in which abortion is legal are similar to those in countries in which it is banned and supports measures and actions to improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.
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