Gender equality in Europe
Not surprisingly, there is still work to be done about gender equality in Europe but there are some great improvements at the European level.
It's not won yet!
In Europe, women's employment rate is 11 points lower than men's. Plus, women's hourly wage is on average 16% lower. To add another layer, it is women who are most exposed to poverty and excluded from decision-making positions, especially in politics. The fight is therefore far from being won in terms of gender equality.
At the economic level, there has been a (too) slow improvement. However, women still work much less than men: 66.5% compared to 78%. This difference can be explained by many factors: education, professional sectors, segregation on the labour market, poor sharing of domestic tasks and childcare... These rates vary from one state to another but let's look on the bright side: in some countries pay equity is almost achieved, like in Romania, and the same applies to access to employment, like in Lithuania.
Finally, after a long period, there has been a small increase in the number of women in politics, including the very recent election of Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová but also German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
And what does Europe do about it?
Since 1957, with the Treaty of Rome, gender equality, the fight against discrimination and the principle of equal pay have been fundamental values of the European Union. However... well... the EU has been dragging its feet a little bit: it took almost twenty years (1975) for the first EU directive on wage discrimination. One year later, the EU Court of Justice recognised the direct effect of the principle of equal pay for men and women. Finally, it still took almost another ten years (1984) to see the birth of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, which is responsible for all aspects of women's rights. It is one of the 22 standing committees of the European Parliament.
Since the 2000s, a series of charters have been signed to strengthen the jurisdiction concerning gender equality and then another on the integration of women in local authorities. In 2010, a directive introducing a minimum parental leave came into force in all European Union countries to encourage a better distribution of leave between both parents and not just for women.
The vote gap
A particularly alarming figure for the EU at the moment:
According to the European Commission, while women vote almost as much as men in national elections, the participation gap is 5 points between women and men in European elections.
In France, it is even worse: 36.8% of women on the electoral lists voted in 2014 European elections, against 48.5% of men. Not to mention that parity is still a long way off in the European Parliament: only 36.4% of seats are held by women.
So we need to vote to make a difference! No matter your gender, it is essential to do something to make your voice heard and improve the future of women and society in general.
Check out my sources (in French) and read up about it: