Politics and Society/Gender Equality

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[edit] Context

Efforts to introduce and develop gender equality policies take place in international, the EU and national contexts. European Union strategies on gender equality have a long history, as the principle of equal treatment is already referred to in the EC Treaty of 1957 [1]. Gender Mainstreaming became part of the general EU policy approach from the mid 1990s onwards. Various institutions dealing with gender equality were established and the principle of equal treatment of women and men was introduced into specific EU Directives. This forced the Member States to bring their national approaches in line with the guidelines included in the directices.

From the very beginning, the developments in Europe were influenced by international developments, particularly at the level of the United Nations. Within the UN system, various organisations deal with gender equality issues.

[edit] European Strategies

[edit] Gender equality approaches by the European Commission

The objective of the European Commission as regards gender equality and Gender Mainstreaming is to integrate equality between women and men into all Community policies and activities. The Commission's efforts and activities cover a broad policy sprectrum, such as employment and the labour market, the gender pay gap, education and training, gender balance in decision-making, women and science, the reconciliation between work and private life, gender budgeting, social inclusion & social protection, the situation of migrant women, development cooperation, the structural funds and many others [2]. Within the Direcorate General Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, two special units are responsible for issues related to gender equality issues. First, "Equal Opportunities for Women and Men: Strategy and Programme" and second, "Equality of treatment between Women and Men: Legal Questions". At the Gender Equality webpages, an overview on current and future activities of the European Commission with regard to equality between men and women is given. Moreover, information on EU wide strategies to implement gender equality as well as a range of recent publications are provided here.

In 2006, the establishment of a European Institute for Gender Equality was decided to support EU institutions and Member States in promoting equality between women and men and combating sex discrimination.

[edit] European Parliament - Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality

Within the European Parliament, a specific committee is dedicated to gender issues. The Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality is responsible for the definition, promotion and protection of women's rights in the Union and related Community measures, the promotion of women's rights in third countries as well as for equal opportunities policy, including equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities and treatment at work. Other areas of work cover the removal of all forms of discrimination based on sex, the implementation and further development of gender mainstreaming in all policy sectors, the follow-up and implementation of international agreements and conventions involving the rights of women and information policy on women [3].

[edit] International Approaches

International cooperation as regards gender equality not only takes place at the European level but also on a broader scale. There are several organisations dealing with gender and gender equality issues at a global level.

[edit] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

OECD is an international organisation situated in Paris (France) representing 30 Member States, most of them being industrial countries. The organisation works on global issues in the field of society, politics, economy and others. The work ranges from data collection and analysis to monitoring and evaluation as well as policy advice. OECD adresses a variety of issues ranging from employment, trade and labour standards, health, family, gender-equity to education and population ageing needs. Gender equity is an important concern of the organisation. Among others, the economic and social benefits of gender equality are highlighted as well as there are regularly surveys undertaken in various countries regarding the reconciliation of work and family life [4].

[edit] International Labour Organization - ILO

The International Labour Organization is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. The ILO's mandate on gender equality is to promote equality between all women and men in the world of work. The role of the Bureau for Gender Equality, part of the Geneva-based Secretariat of the ILO, is to advocate for gender equality throughout the organization.

[edit] UNIFEM - United Nations Development Fund for Women

UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. In joint collaboration with UNESCO, the organisation has published the "Passport to Equality" presenting and explaining the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in the form of a personal passport. The purpose of the Passport is to make women and men all over the world aware of the existence of the Convention. The new edition is available in English, French and Spanish.

[edit] References:

  1. Treaty establishing the European Community
  2. Website of the European Commission on Gender Mainstreaming
  3. FEMM - Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality Homepage
  4. OECD , 20007: Babies and Bosses - Reconciling Work and Family Life: A Synthesis of Findings for OECD Countries.

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