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Principle 2

Gender equality

Employment disparities are not decreasing and large differences between Member States persist. Aggregate improvements in employment disparities are matched with increasing divergence in gender wage and pension gaps. Eurostat and SDG monitoring shows the disadvantages that women experience as they bear the burden of care within the household. While women achieve better results in education, their professional careers are less successful than those of men. Women dominate in crucial sectors of the economy, such as education, care, services and retail, nevertheless, their work is valued less than the one performed by men, both within the same sector and across sectors. Populist forces are endangering the progress that European society has achieved over the last few decades. This could endanger women’s participation in the labour market (already quite uneven across the EU) and take its toll on potential EU growth.

The aim of the EU is to achieve full gender equality, full equality in pay for equal work and work of equal value, and an equal sharing between men and women of professional and family responsibilities.

Against this backdrop, ETUC is advocating a legislative initiative to fight gender pay-gaps that would resolve deficiencies in the current EU acquis. ETUC demands legally binding pay-transparency measures leading to legislative convergence across member states in order to  better tackle the gender pay-gap.

The ETUC also demands a substantial directive guaranteeing the representation of women from all backgrounds in both executive and non-executive company boards, in a binding quota of 40%.

It is also advisable to issue a Guide for implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive. Such a guide should encourage transposition of the EU Directive through interprofessional agreements in a way that would reduce the amount of time between adoption of the directive and its subsequent application.

Based on the 2030 Agenda – and the SDGs concerning poverty, gender equality and decent work – the European Semester should monitor and support investments in work-life balance, fill the gender gap concerning the number of days of work lost due to family care and focus on reducing the gender-gap in pension income. Euro Area Recommendations and country-specific guidance should create the optimal conditions for public investments in affordable and high-quality childcare facilities.

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. Directive on gender pay transparency – equal pay for equal work and work of equal value
  2. Implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive
  3. Legal initiatives to ensure gender equality and diversity in company boards (e.g. approval of the Directive on Women on Supervisory Boards).
  4. Using gender-based data and a gender equality index, and evaluating the policy impact from a gender-sensitive perspective.
  5. Support EU accession to the Istanbul Convention combating violence against women + ratification and implementation of ILO convention no. 190

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. Target and remedy imbalances in pension income.
  2. In relation to SDGs 5 and 8, creating new benchmarks for work-life balance. Promotion of women to high executive positions in enterprises.
  3. Within the Semester, using the gender equality index. Evaluating CSRs implementation from a gender-sensitive perspective.
  4. To limit gender segregation in the labour market by exchanging experience from communication strategies to overcome gender stereotypes in education and training.